Aim Slow recovery and disability after Achilles tendon rupture are major challenges. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is an autologous supraphysiological concentration of platelets from whole blood that has demonstrated positive cellular and physiological effects on healing in the laboratory and is widely used in musculoskeletal treatments. However, evidence from adequately powered, robust clinical trials is lacking. We aimed to determine the clinical efficacy of PRP for treatment of acute Achilles tendon rupture.
Methods 230 adults starting Achilles rupture non-surgical management within 12 days of injury were randomised to PRP injection or dry needle insertion to the rupture gap, under local anaesthetic. Participants were blinded to study treatment and received standardised rehabilitation. Blinded outcome assessments were at 4, 7, 13, and 24 weeks. The primary outcome was muscle-tendon function assessed by work performed during the heel-rise endurance test (HRET), measured with the Limb Symmetry Index (LSI) (0–100%; 100% denotes full recovery) at 24 weeks. Secondary outcomes were the Achilles Tendon Rupture Score (ATRS), quality of life (SF-12), pain and goal attainment. The trial was prospectively registered.
Results Of 230 participants, 114 were allocated to PRP injection (103 received PRP), 116 were allocated to and received placebo. At 24 weeks, 201/230 (87%) completed the HRET and 214/230 (93%) completed patient reported outcomes. Participant characteristics between the groups were similar. There was no difference between groups at 24 weeks in LSI (mean difference = -4.373; 95% CI −11.217 to 2.471; p=0.195). There were no differences in the secondary outcomes and adverse event rates.
Conclusion This trial design and standardised PRP preparation secure the first robust clinical trial evidence for PRP in managing Achilles tendon rupture, and suggest that PRP offers no patient benefit. The use of PRP in soft tissue injuries must be questionable unless supported by equally robust evidence indicating positive outcomes.
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