Emerging Insights On Platelet-Rich Plasma

David J. Soomekh, DPM, FACFAS

Platelet-rich plasma has become more popular over the last several years as an orthobiologic option for foot and ankle injuries. Incorporating a mix of research findings with his own clinical experience, this author takes a closer look at how PRP may be beneficial for plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathy, bone augmentation and wound healing.    The use of orthobiologics in the treatment of foot and ankle injuries, both in the clinical and surgical venues, is significantly increasing. Clinicians and surgeons continue to seek better ways to accelerate and mediate the healing of bone and soft tissue while incorporating less invasive techniques.    Over the last few years, the use of autologous platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has emerged in the forefront of biologic tools for foot and ankle specialists. Researchers have investigated the use of PRP in the treatment of tendon injuries, chronic wounds, ligamentous injuries, cartilage injuries, muscle injuries and for bone augmentation (intraoperative fusions and fracture repair).1    Platelet-rich plasma has been in use over the last four decades. Theoretically, PRP offers increased concentrations of autologous platelets, which yield high concentrations of growth factors and other proteins that will subsequently lead to enhanced healing of bone and soft tissue on a cellular level.    Platelet-rich plasma is a concentration of platelets derived from the plasma portion of centrifuged or filtered autologous blood. This platelet-rich solution can be an adjunct to healing as with a fresh surgical fusion or it can reinstate healing as with chronic tendon injuries. Platelet-rich plasma and related products have different labels throughout the literature including platelet-rich concentrate, platelet gel, preparation rich in growth factors (PRGF), platelet releasate and platelet-leukocyte-rich gel (PLRG).    Platelet-rich plasma may or may not become activated by another product. The PRP without activation is usually reserved for the treatment of tendon, muscle and other soft tissue. When PRP is available in a gel or fibrin sealant, one can use this both clinically and intraoperatively for wound healing and bone augmentation. There have been several studies investigating the efficacy of PRP and its applications including wound healing and podiatric surgery.1    There have been several basic science reviews and studies as well as clinical studies on PRP. There are both in vitro and in vivo studies. Animal and human studies have examined the benefits and safety of PRP. Many of these studies have adequately shown the safety and efficacy of PRP in the clinical and surgical setting.2-7    However, the human studies are limited by their inconsistencies, small sample size and lack of controls.8 Other limitations include a lack of standardization in technique, concentration of platelets, applications of clinical use, the volume injected, separation from whole blood and post-injection care. There also seems to be as many studies that confirm the benefits of PRP as there are studies that are inconclusive. An important distinction is whether the use of PRP is as beneficial in the acute phases of tissue healing as it may be in chronic pathology.    Foot and ankle applications for PRP fall into several categories. These categories include: acute and chronic ligamentous injuries, chronic tendinopathy (tendinosis), bone pathology, chronic wounds and cartilage injury. With this in mind, let us take a closer look at the use of PRP in the foot and ankle.


How do you bill for this?

I would also like to know what coding is being used for this and do most insurance companies recognize PRP treatment for plantar fasciitis?

There is a new code for this. 0232T Came out in January 2010 but only became valid July, 2010.

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