Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy
During the past decade, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy has emerged as an effective treatment for equine tendon, ligament and even bone injuries. Used in humans prior to its use in horses, PRP delivers concentrated platelets and growth factors to the site of injury, accelerating the healing process and regenerating tissue. Research involving injured racehorses has shown that orthopedic injuries respond very positively to PRP therapy. Not only is there an acceleration of bone and wound healing, but there is evidence of increased formation of blood vessels, connective tissue and skin.
Preparation of PRP
In order to prepare platelet-rich plasma, blood is withdrawn from the patient. The blood is then processed in a centrifuge to separate the red blood cells from the plasma. The plasma, which contains both white blood cells and platelets, is then further concentrated until the finished product contains approximately eight times as many platelets as normal blood.
Administration of PRP
Once the platelet-rich plasma has been prepared, it is injected into the horse using ultrasound guidance. The sedated horse, numbed by a nerve block, normally stands during the procedure, though sometimes PRP therapy is also used during surgery to assist the healing process. At times, the plasma is combined with stem cells for increased efficacy.
In order for PRP therapy to be fully effective, platelets must be stimulated by agents such as thrombin or calcium before or during the injection process.
Benefits of PRP Therapy
PRP therapy has advantages over many other treatment methods. The preparation of platelet-rich plasma is a rapid process, resulting in plasma that is available for treatment usage within the hour. It is easily administered during the same session during which blood has been withdrawn and continues to assist healing after application.
In addition, PRP is compatible with other treatment options, such as physical therapy, and does not produce the scarring surgery does. PRP therapy is always autologous, that is, prepared with the patient’s own blood, and therefore does not carry the risks of transfusion.
Risks of PRP Therapy
The only negative side effects of PRP therapy are side effects common to any type of injection, such as pain, soreness, damage to a blood vessel, allergic reaction, or infection. In most cases, precautions such as careful sterilization of the equipment and the injection site, and precision in the administration of the injection, prevent such complications.