While it didn’t take us by surprise when we saw Platelet-Rich Plasma win yet another bout with Hyaluronic Acid, the scientific community is pretty much over-the-top with this latest result. This is the first time there is really hard, convince-any-hard-core-critics evidence that Platelet-Rich Plasma indeed might be the new accepted non-surgical treatment for symptomatic OA.
This new study was headed by Brian Cole of Rush University Medical Center.
For those who don’t know what that means, here’s a brief summary.
As you can see, this is kinda huge.
That’s why we’re celebrating it.
You can read information about Dr. Brain Cole’s study here.
This study was performed on 111 symptomatic unilateral knee OA patients over a period of one year. Forty-nine patients were injected with Platelet-Rich Plasma and fifty patients were injected with Hyaluronic Acid, both under ultrasonic guidance. This was repeated 4 times. Both groups did not have any change in WOMAC score but IKDC score in the PRP group was significantly higher.
And as the paper reports, “significant improvements were seen in other patient-reported outcome measures” which they suspect was due to the anti-inflammatory properties of Platelet-Rich Plasma.
To fully understand the scope of this new study outcome, let’s discuss the role of Hyaluronic Acid in treating Osteoarthritis. As you know, Hyaluronic Acid is a critical substance in the synovial fluid that allows the bones to glide against one another. And lack of Hyaluronic Acid leads to breakdown of synovial fluid causing joint pain and stiffness that’s associated with Osteoarthritis.
So theory is that injecting Hyaluronic Acid into synovial fluid makes it thicker again.
However, what decades of study has shown is that it’s not as simple as that. Hyaluronic acid has a lot of other activities in the joint and the supplemental, bioengineered HA Hyaluronic Acid does not seem to pick those activities up naturally. That’s why doesn’t actually help improve the synovial fluids.
Reports by industry analysts pegs the worldwide Hyaluronic Acid market (majority) to over $13 Billion. The market is divided into four sections according the application of HA 1) dermal fillers 2) osteoarthritis 3) ophthalmic and 4) vesicoureteral reflux. In THREE of these FOUR divisions, Platelet-Rich Plasma is already proven as a worthy substitute.
Let’s take a look:
I’m not saying Platelet-Rich Plasma will immediately capture the Hyaluronic Acid market.
At least now now.
But there is hope that we could see the market replace a huge portion of bioengineered Hyaluronic Acid with Platelet-Rich Plasma. Think about it. Instead of spending unnecessary money on HA, your patients can now choose a wholesome treatment that actually gives amazing “side effects” to their body.
If you’re a doctor, what this means is that you can stop using hyaluronic acid injections altogether, and instead confidently suggest Platelet-Rich Plasma for your patients. Even if insurance does not cover Platelet-Rich Plasma injections (read more about insurance coverage for prp injections), it is a far more optimum treatment than the bioengineered Hyaluronic Acid.
I believe it’s only a matter of time that the insurance companies will realize why it’s actually cheaper and more effective to do Platelet-Rich Plasma than Hyaluronic Acid.