[Purpose] To compare two platelet-rich plasma kits with different platelet concentrations for treatment of knee osteoarthritis. [Subjects and Methods] Male and female patients with knee osteoarthritis who had confirmed diagnosis with X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging were included in this retrospective study. Eligible patients were divided into two groups: Group I, which received platelet-rich plasma kit I, and Group II, which received platelet-rich plasma kit II. Platelet concentrations of both kits were measured by manual counting. For each group, platelet-rich plasma kit was injected twice with a one-month interval between injections. The Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index and the Visual Analog Scale were applied for clinical evaluation before the first injection and one, three and six months after the second injection. [Results] Kits I and II contained 1,000,000 and 3,000,000 platelets/µl respectively. In both groups, initial Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index and Visual Analog Scale scores were significantly higher compared to the latter evaluations. However, no significant difference was observed between groups in terms of clinical evaluations. [Conclusion] Similar clinical results were found in groups receiving different platelet concentrations, therefore, a concentration of 1,000,000 platelet/µl is considered sufficient for pain relief and functional recovery.
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee is a progressive disease involving the intra-articular (IA) tibiofemoral and patellofemoral cartilage1). Conservative treatment modalities are the first choice in younger and middle-aged populations with cartilage damage and OA of the knee2). Treatment of knee OA includes non-pharmacological methods such as exercise and lifestyle modification, as well as pharmacological therapies, such as analgesics, non-steroidal and steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and corticosteroid injections. The pharmacological therapies often have side effects and sometimes do not provide adequate benefits3, 4).
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been gaining popularity in treatment of knee OA due to its simplicity, safety and minimally invasive features5). PRP is an autologous blood product with an elevated platelet (PLT) concentration that contains many different granules6, 7). PLT granules include a variety of growth factors (GFs), including PLT-derived GF, transforming GF-beta, insulin-like GF-1, and epidermal GF. The concentrations of these GFs may vary between patients and within the same patient at different times. These molecules are believed to be important in maintaining joint homeostasis, tissue healing and tissue regeneration8). PLT granules also store substances such as adenosine diphosphate, adenosine triphosphate, histamine, dopamine, serotonin, cathespin D, cathespin E, elastases and hydrolases, which are believed to play an important role in tissue regeneration8,9,10).
PLT concentration is mentioned in the literature as an important factor in PRP treatment. Scientific evidence is currently limited with regard to optimal PLT concentration for the treatment of knee OA and requires further investigation. Although in vitro studies reveal that PRPs with higher PLT concentrations release more GFs than PRPs with lower concentrations (4.69 × versus 1.99 × concentrated PLTs), it remains unclear whether more GFs yield better clinical results11).
The Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) questionnaire is one of the most widely used tools for evaluation of patient’s functional status in rheumatic diseases, especially knee OA. Domains of stiffness, pain and functional limitation are measured in this questionnaire12). Similarly, the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) is frequently used to evaluate clinical outcomes.
The aim of this study was to use WOMAC and VAS evaluations to compare the clinical outcomes of early stage-knee OA patients treated with two PRP kits with different PLT concentrations.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS
Data from male and female patients with knee OA (Kelgrenn Lawrence stage II and III) who were admitted to our physical therapy and rehabilitation clinic and diagnosed by clinical examination and X-ray imaging between January 2013 and December 2014 were retrospectively included in this study. Patients who did not have routine clinical evaluations (pre- and post-treatment WOMAC and VAS) were excluded from the study. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) records were also used for excluding joint effusion, meniscal degeneration, anterior cruciate ligament oedema and other knee injuries which may result in knee pain.
Patients were divided into two groups. Group I patients who received the Easy PRP Kit (Neotec Biotechnology Ltd., Istanbul, Turkey) and Group II patients received the Ycellbio PRP Kit (Ycellbio MEDICAL Co. Ltd., Seoul, South Korea).
For preparation of the Ycellbio PRP kit®, 3–4 ml of PRP with a concentration of 9–13 times the average normal value, and 2 ml of anticoagulant were drawn into a 20-ml syringe. Then, 14 ml of blood was collected from the patient. In total, a blood sample of 16 ml was carefully injected at a 45° angle into a Ycellbio kit®. The sample was centrifuged at 3,700 rpm for seven minutes to concentrate the PLTs. Using the control lever in the bottom of the Ycellbio kit®, 3–4 ml of PRP containing leucocytes was raised to the mid-line and drawn into a 5 ml syringe. The injection site was prepared, and the PRP was injected under sterile conditions using a 22G needle in the classic approach for IA knee injections (Fig. 1). For preparation of the Easy PRP kit®, 1–3 ml of PRP with a concentration of 4–6 times the average normal value, and 8.5 ml of blood were collected. Then, 1.5 ml of ACD-A was added to the sample as an anticoagulant. The prepared Easy PRP Kit® was centrifuged for five minutes at 1,200 RCF. Afterward, the blood was separated into plasma and red blood cells (RBCs). Next, RBCs, which are collected in the RBC collector section, were discarded from the device. In order to concentrate PLTs, a second centrifuge process was performed for 10 minutes at 1,200 RCF. The final product was 1–3 ml of PRP containing leucocytes. An exogenous factor was not used for the process of activation, but allowing the PLTs to be in direct contact with the joint collagen helped the activation. The injection site was prepared, a local anesthetic injection was administered, and the PRP was injected under sterile conditions using a 22G needle in the classic approach for IA knee injections. For each patient, the anesthetic injection consisted of 2 cc of a mixture of 0.5 cc lidocaine and 5 cc of physiological serum.
Each patient was injected twice by the same physiatrist with a four week interval between injections. The PLT concentration of the two different PRP kits was evaluated by manual counting in the same microbiology laboratory.
The WOMAC and the VAS were applied for objective clinical evaluation before the first injection and one, three, and six months after the second injection. Patients were asked to complete the 24-question WOMAC osteoarthritis index questionnaire, which assesses pain, stiffness, and physical functions of OA. Higher WOMAC scores indicate impairment of the measured function. Level of pain was evaluated by the patients using a VAS with a 10-cm line with ‘no pain’ at one end and ‘worst pain’ at the other end.
This study was conducted in accordance with Declaration of Helsinki and approved by the ethics committee of Istanbul Kanuni Sultan Suleyman Training and Research Hospital with approval number KAEK/2014/2. A written informed consent was obtained from each subject.
The Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was used to evaluate the distribution of variables. For the analysis of quantitative data, the Mann-Whitney U test was used. Qualitative data were analyzed using the χ2 test. For descriptive statistics of the data, mean, standard deviation, median, minimum, maximum, frequency and ratio values were used. SPSS 22.0 software (IBM, Armonk, NY, USA) was used for analysis.
A total of 20 patients (19 females) were treated in Group I, and 25 patients (24 females) were treated in Group II. Mean (± SD) age of the patients was 56 (± 6.8) years in Group I, and 50 (± 5.5) years in Group II. There were no significant differences between the two groups in terms of gender and age (p>0.05; Table 1).