Investigating Platelet-Rich Plasma for Equine Tendon Injuries

A single injection of platelet-rich plasma appears beneficial for acute clinical tendon injuries in horses, report a group of scientists from The Netherlands.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a fraction of whole blood that contains a concentrated source of platelets--microscopic storage facilities for a variety of growth factors that facilitate healing.

Considering the prevalence of tendon injuries in horses, the fact that PRP is already commercially available, and the dearth of proven therapies for managing tendon injuries, the research team performed a placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of PRP for treating equine tendons.

A core defect was surgically created in the superficial digital flexor tendon of both front limbs of six Standardbred horses. Seven days after surgery, researchers injected one randomly chosen tendon lesion in each horse with 3mL of PRP while the other tendon was injected with saline.

Based on the observed differences in the biochemical content, gross and fine appearance, and strength of the treated and untreated tendons 23 weeks later, the authors concluded that, "PRP increases metabolic activity and seems to advance maturation of repair tissue." Thus, PRP might be beneficial in the treatment of clinical (i.e., non-experimentally-induced) tendon injuries.

According to the authors, "Further research is also necessary to determine the most appropriate timing for PRP treatment in relation to the phase of repair, and procedures to determine the actual stage of the healing process, and should be developed to guide the revalidation scheme."

The study, "Effects of platelet-rich plasma on the quality of repair of mechanically induced core lesions in equine superficial digital flexor tendons: a placebo-controlled experimental study," will be published in an upcoming edition of the International Journal of Orthopaedic Research. The abstract is currently available on PubMed.

Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.

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