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Medray Imaging - Vancouver MRI Clinic
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PRP - Platelet Rich Plasma

After sustaining an injury, the body initiates a well-orchestrated and complex series of events that results in eventual healing of the injury. Proteins in the blood play an integral role as messengers helping to regulate the entire healing process. Many of these proteins, called growth and differentiation factors, are recovered from small fragments in the blood called platelets.

 

Platelets are small, colorless cell fragments present in the blood. They are formed in the bone marrow and usually freely travel in the bloodstream in a resting state. However, when an injury occurs, the platelets become activated and gather at the injury site. While better known for their role in blood clotting (which causes bleeding to stop), platelets serve an additional essential role by releasing growth and differentiation factors. These beneficial factors initiate the healing process.

 

For many years, there has been a growing interest among researchers and clinicians regarding the use of various components derived from a person’s own blood to assist in their healing of soft tissue injuries. This involves obtaining and then delivering the blood components in a targeted fashion to the site of injury. New research and technology have expanded the role of this potential therapy for use in orthopedic applications.

 

What is platelet-rich plasma (PRP)?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a liquid containing a concentration of platelets and growth factors much higher than the concentration normally found in whole blood. PRP is derived from a small amount of your own blood. Increased levels of growth factors in PRP have the potential to improve signalling and recruitment of cells involved in the healing process.

 

How does the PRP process work?

Our technologist (who is a trained phlebotomist) will collect a small amount of your blood. This sample then goes through a rapid spinning process in a device called a centrifuge, which separates and concentrates the platelets and other beneficial growth factors from whole blood. Our automated system results in a platelet concentration of up to 18 times that of whole blood (PRP is often defined as a platelet concentration of at least 5 times that of whole blood). The entire PRP production process is usually complete in less than 30 minutes.

 

What does the procedure involve?

The affected area (joint or tendon) is evaluated by one of our Radiologists using an ultrasound machine, which is also used to guide needle placement to the target site. The treatment area is prepared by using an antiseptic to disinfect the skin surface, and aseptic technique is used throughout the procedure to minimize the risk of infection. Using a fine needle, we first numb the affected area by injecting a local anaesthetic. The treatment needle is then inserted into the target site and the PRP is injected. Tendon fenestration may be performed prior to PRP injection to further promote healing.

 

 

Am I a candidate for treatment?

Speak with your physician or healthcare practitioner (e.g. physiotherapist) and ask if this treatment is right for you. Your provider will perform an examination to decide if this therapy will potentially benefit you. PRP treatment helps people who suffer from tendinopathy, including epicondylitis, or from early stage osteoarthritis. 

 

Do I need a referral from my doctor?

We believe it is important that you are under care from a physician or healthcare professional. We require a referral from either a physician (or specialist) or your physiotherapist. Click here for the PRP requisition form.

 

 

Do I need to stop taking any medications?

No. You should continue to take all medications. For best results, we do recommend that you stop taking anti-inflammatory medications (such as NSAIDs) up to 2 weeks prior to treatment. Ask you doctor if you can stop taking your anti-inflammatory medications.

 

What are the risks of this treatment?

 

Platelet therapy uses your body's own natural properties to treat your injury. Side effects from utilizing platelet treatment are very uncommon. Side effects may include bruising and swelling in the injection area for up to ten days. Complications are uncommon and may include: bleeding, infection and/or allergies. Worsening pain, rash, or itch at the treatment site may be an indication of infection. Seek urgent medical attention. Life threatening complications (e.g. anaphylaxis) can occur but are exceedingly rare.  MedRay Imaging has emergency protocols, medications and equipment available in the event of a serious reaction or allergy.

 

What is the Post-Treatment Care?

A gradual, progressive physical habilitation program can play an important role in maximizing the benefits of PRP. It is important to discuss this with your referring doctor or physiotherapist.  The following is a general guideline (the recommendations of your referring practitioner may differ): Immediately following the procedure, the treated area should be kept protected and relatively immobilized for approximately 3 days. Following this, gradual increased use of the area for daily activities while avoiding exercise is recommended for up to approximately 2 weeks following the procedure. From this point onwards, a return to exercise with slow gradual transition from low-intensity to high-intensity activity over several weeks or months is the goal.

 

What is the cost of this treatment?

 

Unfortunately, this service is not covered by MSP or extended health insurance plans. PRP treatment is a private pay service. Please call us at 604.941.7611 and ask us for details. If you have a Health Benefit Trust account, then speak with your employer benefits provider.