What is a Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injection?
Blood is made up of plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Platelets are small discoid cells made in bone marrow and they have a life span of about 7-10 days.
PRP is a concentration of platelets that is taken from a patients own blood. These platelets have growth factors that may assist in the body’s process of healing. Growth factors are chemicals that tell the body to begin a healing response. By injecting PRP into an injured area it is hoped that this will stimulate and enhance the body’s ability to heal the injury.
Platelets also contain fibrin, which the body acts on to form new scar tissue which helps fill tears in tendons.
By spinning a sample of your blood in a centrifuge machine we are able to separate the blood into its components and gain a higher concentration of platelets than in your own blood. Studies have shown that significant benefit can be achieved if PRP is used instead of normal blood.
PRP is normally preferred for tendon or muscle injuries. This can be any partially torn muscle or tendon anywhere in the body. Studies show that the success rate is in the range of 70-80%. The healing process typically occurs over 4 to 6 weeks.
What are the benefits of PRP?
PRP can facilitate cartilage growth. It can also assist to remodel and heal tears. There is no introduction of a foreign agent as the patient’s own blood is used. PRP will facilitate in healing a tear whereas cortisone will decrease inflammation and pain.
Important preparation needed prior to the procedure
Anti-inflammatories are NOT to be taken 1 week prior to the procedure.
PRP is obtained from you, the patient. As your own blood is used, it is first collected by withdrawing it from a vein in the arm, The blood is then placed in a machine called a centrifuge. This machine spins at high speed to separate the different types of blood cells. The doctor then removes the platelet rich portion of the blood. This procedure usually takes about 10 minutes
Up to 1-4ml of PRP will be extracted from the spun down (centrifuged) blood. This amount will depend on your injury. The PRP will then be injected into the injury using ultrasound guidance. Local anaesthetic is not usually mixed with the PRP as it changes the chemical nature of the fluid and dilutes it.
Is it painful?
It is quite normal to feel some pain during and following the injection. This pain is similar to bruising a tendon.
You should not participate in any significant activity involving the treated area for at least one week. Normal daily activities are okay but you should not take part in strenuous exercise or heavy lifting.
As pointed out above, a moderate amount of discomfort is likely. The pain is usually worse in the first couple of days, however this should slowly improve. For pain relief take Paracetamol (eg: Panadol) or Paracetamol combined with codeine (eg: Panadeine) if you need something stronger. Anti-inflammatories should be avoided for up to 1 week after the procedure as they can affect the function of the platelets.
If you experience persisting severe pain or an adverse reaction following the injection please contact our office on (08) 8229 2100
Can it be repeated?
Repeat injections may be required if requested by your referring doctor.
Things we need to know from you?
Please inform the Radiology staff of any of the following:
- If you are allergic to any medications or anaesthetic agent
- If you are feeling unwell or need to cancel your appointment please ring our officer as soon as possible on (08) 8229 2100
Important things you must bring to your appointment
- A referral from your healthcare professional
- Medicare card
- Pension/Concession card
- Any relevant previous films/x-rays
- Workcover/Motor Vehicle Accident claim details (if applicable) i.e.claim number, name of employer or insurer
Please feel free to contact our staff at any time if you have any questions or concerns on (08) 8229 2100