Platelet-rich plasma is a material that is prepared by centrifuging (spinning at high speeds) whole blood obtained from the patient. This separates the blood into basic components based on weight. It includes plasma, platelets, and red blood cells. The plasma with platelets is then utilized to inject into the knee. It is thought that platelet-rich plasma stimulates material within the knee to inhibit cartilage degradation, and this inhibition of cartilage degradation is useful in the treatment of osteoarthritis. There is evolving literature that indicates platelet-rich plasma can be useful, particularly in younger, more active individuals with mild arthritis. Several studies have compared the usefulness of platelet-rich plasma to viscosupplementation utilizing hyaluronic acid. The majority of studies have shown favorable outcomes for platelet-rich plasma when compared to viscosupplementation. Further research is required with double-blind studies to compare the efficacy of platelet-rich plasma to other nonoperative treatment modalities for the treatment of early and moderate arthritis. End-stage osteoarthritis associated with increasing pain and decreasing function is still best treated with joint replacement surgery.
William Barrett, MD is a fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon who specializes in primary and revision hip and knee replacement. He performs over 500 hip and knee replacement procedures each year. He is actively involved in clinical research on Anterior Approach Total Hip Replacement (THA), Alternative Bearings for THA, Less Invasive Approaches to joint replacement and use of computerized vs. custom cutting guides for knee replacement. As a nationally recognized joint replacement surgeon, he lectures globally on hip and knee replacement topics. He is active in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Continuing Medical Education programs. He is a board examiner for the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.