Platelet rich plasma is a new therapy for the treatment of equine tendon and ligament injuries. Horses suffering tendon and ligament injuries have historically had a poor prognosis for a return to athletic ability due to the limited ability of tendons to repair after injury. The repair tissue is often functionally inferior to normal tendon tissue and this goes hand in hand with an increased risk of re-injury.
The collection and preparation of platelet rich plasma is simple, non-invasive and takes only about 30 minutes. Firstly, 60mls of venous blood is collected from the horses' jugular vein. The blood is transferred to a holding device, which is then placed into a portable centrifuge and spun for 3 minutes. This process separates the serum from the red blood cells. The serum is removed from this sample, placed into the centrifuge and spun for a further 15 minutes. This process leaves the platelets concentrated at the bottom of the sample. Excess serum is then removed and the platelets are re-suspended and ready for injection into the injured tendon. The injured horse is mildly sedated and a nerve block is administered to anaesthetise the injured area. The platelet rich plasma is then injected back into the injured tendon under ultrasound guidance.
After an initial period of box rest, a gradual exercise program is commenced with the aim of returning to horse to full activity over a period of 6-12 months depending on the degree of injury and ligament injured.