PRP is a way of processing whole blood from a patient which results in a fluid (Plasma) component with a concentrated proportion of platelets. Platelets are small cell fragments that circulate in the blood along with the red (oxygen carrying) and white (infection fighting) cells. Platelets are involved in blood clotting and in wound healing and they contain large quantities of growth factors (TGF, PDGF, IGF, EGF and TGF). These growth factors are released when the platelets are broken down and result in the formation of new blood vessels and the formation of new connective tissue and regeneration of skin.
A sample of blood is taken from the horse, usually from the jugular vein in the neck, and processed to increase the number of platelets it contains. This is done by passing the blood through a filter or by placing it in a centrifuge. A 50ml sample of blood will produce about 8ml of PRP that is immediately ready to be used for treatment. Platelet numbers are typically increased, per millilitre, by 4 to 6 times. For joints, the procedure is the same as that for injecting any other product such as local anaesthetic or corticosteroids – the joint is usually clipped and then cleaned to reduce the risk of infection before the PRP is injected. For soft tissue injuries such as tendon or ligament strains, a number of injection sites may be needed and the PRP is often injected through small needles placed through the skin into the site of injury. The early results for this very new treatment are encouraging.