Tendon and ligament injuries are a common cause of lameness in the horse. These injuries typically heal slowly and the function of the tendon or ligament is often decreased post healing. Although the healing process isn’t completely understood, it is known that platelets have an important role in the initiation and maintenance of wound healing. When an injury occurs platelets are activated and release their granular contents into the wound environment. The alpha-granules contain several growth factors that act together to increase the access of healthy inflammatory cells to the injured tissue, assist with the formation of new blood vessels and connective tissue, and the regeneration of new tissue.
PRP therapy is used on both recent tendon and ligament injuries (and some joint injuries) in addition to those that have not healed with conventional rest and controlled exercise. The platelet rich plasma is injected using ultrasound guided injection techniques into the tendon or ligament injury with the horse under sedation and local nerve block. The healing process can be checked with follow up ultrasound exams as the horse goes through an initial rest period and subsequent exercise rehab program. In most cases only one injection of PRP is needed to result in complete healing of the injury. Clinical observations concerning the improved healing of tendon and ligament injuries concur with studies that have shown that PRP does increase metabolic activity and advances maturation of repair tissue over non treated tendon lesions.
The SmartPrep2 kit used in the production of platelet rich plasma is a closed system which decreases the chance of contamination and consistently supplies concentrated viable platelets at least 7 times above baseline values. Current research has shown that to accelerate the wound healing process a viable concentration of platelets that is 4-5x above baseline values is required. In addition to a high concentration of platelets, the SmartPrep2 centrifuge system processes the platelets and corresponding growth factors in such a way as to leave them viable and functionally similar to the ones found in the circulatory system so that enhanced healing can take place. With this system I am comfortable that I am able to provide a quality PRP product and environment to enhance the healing of tendon and ligament injuries.