PRP (or platelet-rich-plasma) is a technique in medicine that has been gaining popularity in veterinary clinics across North America. This technique uses a blood sample from the patient to act as a factor in the treatment of several inflammatory conditions.
If your vet determines that PRP will be helpful for your pet, the first step is to get a blood sample. Once that's done, the sample gets spun in a centrifuge which will separate the red blood cells and the rest of the sample, called the blood plasma. The red blood cells are removed and what's left is a blood plasma that contains a variety of healing proteins known as growth-factors. Among these are: platelet derived growth factor (PDGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), Transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-B1), epidermal growth factor (EGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (b-FGF), and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). These growth factors are what the body uses in the natural healing process but concentrating them in the way and then applying them directly to the site where they are needed just speeds up the process!
The typical use for PRP therapy is with soft tissue injuries. It is used in the equine world for tendon and ligament injuries, but has many other potential uses. Dr. Langan and her team began using it a few years ago to help treat corneal abrasions - scratches on the surface of the eye, a common injury that plagues dogs when a new cat is brought into a family...
It has also been found to be effective for wound care, osteoarthritis, and even bone fractures. Another common canine injury where it can help is crutiate ligament rupture. Depending on the severity of the injury, it may be used instead of, or in addition to surgical repair.
If you think your pet might be a candidate for PRP treatment feel free to bring it up with your vet. It is always good to ask questions and take an active role in your pet's health care.
Once the PRP solution is prepared, it is typically administered through an injection to the site of the injury. Depending on the particular use though, there are other administration routes too. For example, in the treatment of corneal abrasions the PRP was prepared into an eye drop and administered that way. One important thing for owners to be aware of is that due to the precision required for certain injection sites (for example some injections must be directly placed in a joint), an animal may need to be sedated for the administration. However this can be done without general anesthetic and pets recover quickly, usually in just a few hours. Make sure to bring up any questions or concerns you have with your vet at your appointment. It might be a good idea to write them down beforehand. There is usually a lot of information exchange that happens during an appointment, it's easy to forget a few things you had meant to ask!
PRP treatment is quite safe since it uses the patient's own blood sample for treatment. This is what's known as autologous treatment, so there is little chance of an adverse reaction. Any side effects noticed are usually from the injection site such as a mild swelling. While research is ongoing, early evidence is quite encouraging for the effectiveness of PRP for treating a variety of ailments in pets. If you want to learn more, check out the sources in the links below.