Veterinary medicine strives to parallel human medicine but we lag behind in advances mostly due to the cost factor and lack of pet owner interest or demand. Regenerative medicine in the human medical field began to emerge as early as the late 1960’s. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Biotechnology was implemented in people by the 1980’s when it was discovered that platelets from a patient’s own blood could be used as a vehicle to release wound healing factors or substances that could aid in rapid repair of injured tissues and blood vessels. PRP Biotechnology is now available at a reasonable cost in veterinary medicine.
Regenerative medicine is defined as the promise of regenerating damaged tissues and organs in the body by replacing damaged tissue and/or by stimulating the body’s own repair mechanisms to heal previously irreparable tissues or organs. Simply, regenerative medicine is helping the body repair itself. PRP is a form of regenerative medicine that is becoming more readily available in veterinary medicine, especially in equine and canine sports medicine.
The canine body is made up of some 100 trillion individual cells and these cells communicate with each other through chemical signals (proteins) that maintain a normal functional balance within the body. Platelets (aka Thrombocytes) are fragments of larger cells (from the bone marrow called megakaryocytes) that circulate throughout the body in the blood vessels. Platelets are the first line of defense in stopping the bleeding of a cut by the formation of clots. Additionally, platelets have very important chemicals or proteins that they release or secrete like growth factors and cytokines that help repair damaged tissues.
A traumatic injury sustained to a pet’s musculoskeletal system (muscle, tendon, ligament or joint) causes a cascade of events to occur within their body. The trauma to tissues causes inflammatory cells and platelets to make their way to the injury site. The platelets go to work clotting blood and releasing their growth factors and cytokines which ultimately aid in rebuilding new blood vessels and connective tissue. As the wound bleeds, essentially the body is already working to rebuild the damaged tissue and heal itself.
PRP is made from your injured dog’s blood (approximately 40 mL is required). The blood is spun with special equipment that separates the plasma (liquid portion of the blood) from the red and white blood cells. The machine has the ability to concentrate and activate the platelets in your dog’s plasma. Once the PRP is prepared, it can be injected directly into the injured area or injected into the patient’s veins (IV). PRP offers a very promising cutting edge solution to accelerating the healing of soft tissue injuries like ligaments (Achilles’, Cruciate, and Collateral), joints (osteoarthritis), damaged muscles and fractured bones. PRP may also be a realistic alternative to surgery in veterinary medicine.