News Article: Positive feedback from our first patients treated with platelet concentrate for joint disease

We see a number of cases of chronic degenerative joint disease (DJD) where surgical treatment like joint replacement or salvage surgery is not an option. When conventional treatment is not enough, we have two modern and emerging technologies that may help. These technologies can be used alongside each other, and alongside the other standard treatments (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics etc) that are described in our information sheet on DJD which can be found in the section for owners, sub-section “fact sheets”.

One option is the class IV K-laser therapy that we have been using since 2012 and which involves the application of laser light energy to the affected area(s). Another option is the injection of concentrated platelets into the affected joint(s). Platelets are present in a sample of the patients’ own blood which can be easily collected from a vein. The concentrated platelet fraction is then prepared using modern filtration technology. The injection of the platelet concentrate into the joint(s) requires strict asepsis to reduce the risk of joint infection, and so a short general anaesthetic is required. Clinical trials have shown that one treatment gives improved weight bearing, reduced lameness and reduced pain when measured objectively (using measuring equipment) and subjectively (when graded by owners and vets) 12 weeks after treatment. These trials were well designed: The trials were randomised and “blinded” (the people doing the measuring and assessing did not know what treatment the dogs had had and so could not be biased in their interpretations. The suggestion is that improvements in clinical signs last for months but this technology is so new that we don’t really know this yet. The idea is that platelets release platelet derived growth factors which in turn attract stem cells to augment repair and remodeling processes. See our links for more information.

We have done quite a few cases now, injecting platelet concentrate into elbows, shoulders and stifles (knees). We are now getting the feedback from the clients whose pets were the first to receive this treatment from us.

References:

  • A randomized controlled trial of the efficacy of autologous platelet therapy for the treatment of osteoarthritis in dogs. Fahie et al. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2013; 243:1291–1297
  • Clinical outcome using canine platelet enhancement therapy (C-PET). Fahie et al. Veterinary Orthopedic Society 39th Annual Conference 2012. Abstract reprinted in Veterinary Comparative Orthopaedics and Traumatology 3/2012, A8-9

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Max, a 7 year old Labrador cross. Max had chronic left elbow DJD, and was one of the first patients we treated. He received a platelet concentrate injection into his left elbow joint at the very end of October 2013.

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Here is an extract from an email we received in January 2014 from his owner.

[in the first few days after treatment] … Max … showed greater willingness to weight bear … and this continued to improve gradually over the first two-three weeks.  His elbow was [initially] quite pink and swollen. Once this diminished he had a much more harmonious gait – even sitting, and his elbow was clearly less … swollen than before the treatment.  He was much more comfortable and willing to be active.

Two/three months ago Max would hardly weight bear at all on his bad leg when moving.  Since you treated him he has regained the use of that leg, and seems much more content.  He behaves a bit like a puppy now and again – darting and diving around, and will continue to jump on and off beds/sofas and madly chase cats if not being watched!  When he overdoes it he pays for it with a day of soreness, and is clearly more lame, but it is not at all as bad as when we came to you in October.  A rest day then improves the situation again. I hope you will … perform a few more of these ‘pet’ therapies. I believe the treatment has done its best now, and I will be watching hopefully to see how long it will continue to help him.  I wish I could explain to him NOT to jump off things, but it is good to see him rejuvenated enough to want to! …. Many thanks to you and the team.