Critical Differences in PRP: Laboratory Prepared vs Bedside
Not all platelet-rich plasma (PRP) preparations are the same. The majority of PRP preparations are created by bedside centrifuge units. At Regenexx we are constantly striving to improve clinical results. Our state-of-the-art cellular laboratory enables us to experiment on different ways to get more platelets out of a given sample.
We recently ran an experiment with 5 patient samples trying 5 different techniques to maximize platelet concentration in platelet-rich plasma. A flow cytometer was used to measure the number of platelets being isolated and how ‘clean” the isolation was in the mix. Clean isolation was preferred since it meant it had little extra platelet matter( cell membranes.)
The results demonstrated that the centrifuge techniques similar to bedside PRP did NOT produce the best platelet concentrates. In fact, they tended to produce fewer platelets and more non-platelet matter than other techniques.
A proprietary simple laboratory technique has been developed that provides more platelets and much cleaner isolation. It is called APC: autologous platelet concentration so as to differentiate it from PRP. It produced 237% more platelets when compared with traditional bedside centrifuge units.
Below is a graph that demonstrates the significant differences. The graph on the left has a wide mountain reflective of significant non-platelet matter whereas the graph on the right has a narrow tall peak reflective of cleaner isolation. The total number of platelets on the left is 200 vs 1200 produced by the laboratory.
Bottom line: laboratory-prepared autologous platelet concentrate provides a larger number of platelets in cleaner isolation. This difference translates to improved healing and faster recovery.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections vs. Steroid Shots
How PRP treatments and Steroid Shots Differ in Terms of Recovery
The idea behind PRP instead of steroid shots is that, instead of injecting something that will lessen swelling in the short term and impede healing, the doctor is opting to inject something which has the potential to prompt recovery. This is because the platelets in the PRP have healing growth factors that will likely help the injured tissue mend (2). In this way, it is a superior alternative to steroid shots.
- In the graph below, PRP has an initial flare-up which goes away in 3-7 days. And, after that, the patient gradually gets better than baseline.
- For steroids, it’s the contrary, with the individual feeling better quicker, but after that, the effects disappear over a number of weeks, and the discomfort returns.
- Surgical intervention has a longer pain period for weeks and then the individual gets slowly better.