Health Problem: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a painful condition in which the cartilage between the bones degenerates, no longer providing a smooth, gliding surface for motion or adequate cushioning. Because OA damages the cartilage and may ultimately damage the bone, it disrupts how components work together, resulting in pain, swelling, inflammation, muscle weakness, impaired quality of life, and reduced function. The knee is commonly afflicted by OA.

Technology Description: Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is blood plasma with a higher-than-usual concentration of platelets. The intra-articular (IA) injection of autologous PRP is proposed to improve local healing, thereby treating conditions, including knee OA.

Controversy: Some researchers have expressed reservations about the use of PRP to treat cartilage, because the natural healing function of platelets is to stop vascular bleeding, and PRP contains some molecules that may impair cartilage regeneration. The influence of PRP upon clinical outcomes is unclear, as is the durability of any observed effect.

Key Questions:

For adults with knee OA:

  • What is the efficacy of PRP compared with IA saline injection (IA-S)?
  • What is the efficacy of PRP compared with other IA treatments, hyaluronic acid (IA-HA) and corticosteroids (IA-CS)?
  • What complications are associated with PRP for knee OA, and how do complications compare with sham injection and other IA treatments?
  • Have definitive patient selection criteria been established for PRP for knee OA?

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