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Regen Ther. 2019 Mar 22;10:123-126. doi: 10.1016/j.reth.2019.02.004. eCollection 2019 Jun.

Can platelet-rich plasma therapy save patients with ulnar collateral ligament tears from surgery?

Author information

1
Department of Sports Medicine, Kameda Medical Center, Japan.
2
Global Care Medical Center of Canlubang, Laguna, Philippines.

Abstract

Introduction:

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been shown to be effective in treating partial tears of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the elbow in overhead throwing athletes, but it is still unknown whether it has a role in complete tears. The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of PRP in treating complete as well as partial UCL tears. We hypothesized that trephination of the injured UCL followed by injection with PRP can promote healing of both partial and complete tears.

Methods:

Thirty-four baseball players with partial or complete UCL tears confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were included in the study. They were all recalcitrant to more than two months of rest and physical therapy. Under ultrasound guidance, trephination of the UCL was performed using an 18-gauge needle, followed by PRP injection. Visual analog scale (VAS) scores, Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) sports module scores, and sonographic ulnohumeral joint space measurements with valgus stress were all obtained prior to the procedure and six months after.

Results:

Twenty-six of 30 athletes were able to return to sport with pre-injury level of play within six months after the procedure, at an average time of 12.4 weeks (range: 10-18). Four subjects needed surgical treatment for persistent UCL insufficiency. The average follow-up was 54.2 weeks (range: 26-148). The average VAS and DASH scores improved from 53.5 to 17.2 (p < 0.0001) and from 81.7 to 24.2 (p < 0.0001), respectively. The average ulnohumeral joint space opening with valgus stress decreased from 3.81 mm to 3.45 mm (p = 0.018). Subgroup analysis by injury location revealed that the average VAS score improved from 48.2 to 8.6 (p < 0.0001) and from 64.0 to 34.5 (p = 0.0023) in proximal and distal tears, respectively. The average DASH score improved from 83.8 to 17.8 (p = 0.0001) and from 77.5 to 36.7 (p < 0.0001) in proximal and distal tears, respectively. The average ulnohumeral joint space opening with valgus stress decreased from 3.64 to 3.21 mm (p = 0.003) and from 4.14 to 3.92 mm (p = 0.0023) in proximal and distal tears, respectively. There was one case with a proximal tear that needed surgical management for failure of treatment, while there were three cases needing surgery in those with distal tears.

Conclusion:

Ultrasound-guided PRP injection following trephination can be an effective treatment option for both partial and complete UCL tears of the elbow, especially proximal tears. The use of this technique for complete UCL tears may allow more athletes to avoid surgery and enable them to return to play faster.

KEYWORDS:

DASH, Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand; MRI, magnetic resonance imaging; PRP, platelet-rich plasma; Platelet-rich plasma; Regenerative therapy; UCL, ulnar collateral ligament; Ulnar collateral ligament; VAS, visual analog scale

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