Tissue Engineering Advances Orthopedic Medicine

Surgeons at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital are experiencing positive clinical outcomes from a new technique of biologics, or tissue engineering, known as Plasma-rich Platelets (PRP). The concentrated platelets in the PRP injection contain and release growth factors that stimulate bone and soft tissue healing in orthopaedic patients.

According to orthopaedic surgeon Anand Vora, MD: “There are still some controversies surrounding the use or necessity of PRP, but in some cases we have seen tremendous results in faster recoveries with the injection of PRP.” It is not always appropriate or necessary, but the biologic can accelerate healing when used in conjunction with surgery or with patients who are not surgical candidates but who have severe joint, tendon and ligament damage.

“I routinely use PRP in rotator cuff (shoulder) surgeries, meniscal repairs and allograft ACL reconstructions (anterior cruciate ligament transplants in the knee),” says Roger N. Chams, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in knee and shoulder surgeries. “Science has shown that it may accelerate healing.”

Craig Williams, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in the upper extremities, describes similar results with “tennis elbow” injuries: “Using PRP for the past five years, I’ve seen significant improvement in about 75 percent of these cases. PRP allows us to concentrate platelet-related growth factors from four to ten times normal—that helps tip the scale toward satisfactory healing and avoiding surgery.”

In addition to its use in orthopaedics, radiologists can also perform minimally invasive procedures—using ultrasound guidance—to provide PRP injections.

“Athletes can be treated with consecutive PRP injections,” says Vaishali Lafita, MD, a diagnostic radiologist. “They may even be able to participate successfully in the remaining season.”

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