Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Platelet Rich Plasma, PRP

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Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a form of regenerative medicine that is used in the treatment of equine tendon and ligament injuries. Normally, healing elements are brought to an injured area via the blood. Tendon and ligament tissue has relatively little blood supply. Injuries to these structures usually take a very long time to heal properly because healing elements are very slow to reach the area.

Platelets are tiny cells in blood involved in clotting. Platelets are full of growth factors that favor healing. Injecting concentrated plasma and platelets into tendon and ligament injuries introduces these healing elements in a large quantity.

To prepare PRP, a sample of blood is taken from the injured horse. This sample is processed using one of many PRP concentrating devices, resulting in a sample that contains a very high platelet count. The concentrated product is then injected into the injured area using ultrasound guidance.

The horse is then monitored for swelling at the injection site and lameness and a follow up appointment is scheduled to assess healing.

I personally find it hard to assess healing of a treated tendon or ligament using this treatment because I find it hard to know how it would have healed without the treatment. PRP is fairly expensive, and there is little strong scientific evidence for effectiveness in horses at this time.

Much of the evidence for effectiveness for this treatment is anecdotal at this time. I look forward to more objective evidence of PRP’s efficacy in the future.

Primary indicators of progress are improvement in lameness and swelling and improved ultrasound appearance.

Related DiagnosesThis Treatment Might Be Used for these Diagnoses

Consider Potential Side Effects & Complications

Infection and mild inflammation.

Improper injection or adverse reactions have the potential to damage tendon tissue or cause adhesions between tendons.

Consider Reasons Not To Use This Treatment

Not used if there is infection in the injured area.

Is It working? Timeframe for effect

Months.

Questions To Ask My Vet

  • Why do you suggest this treatment over others?
  • What does the latest research suggest regarding the efficacy of this treatment in horses?
Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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