The field of Regenerative Medicine is one of the most exciting advances in medicine in a very long time. Regenerative Medicine includes the use of products that are naturally occurring in the body, which are used to heal injuries. The novel idea behind these treatments is to support the healing of damage, rather than cutting it out or prescribing medication to cover the pain. The products that are currently allowed by the FDA that make up this field include platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and platelet-rich fibrin (PRF). Dr. Martin has been performing regenerative medicine treatments on patients since 2009 during her fellowship in Chicago. She considers it very important to sit with her patients and discuss whether or not they would benefit from one of these treatments, as well as discussing realistic expectations from these procedures. Dr. Martin has been a leader in the state of Colorado in the field of Regenerative Medicine. She works very hard to educate patients and other medical providers about these alternative treatment options and has given numerous presentations all over the state.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been used for many years in medicine. Its use ranges from assistance in healing damaged tissue, such as cartilage, tendon and muscle, to aesthetic medicine, such as hair growth and skin appearance. In an effort to maintain the highest level of care for our patients, Dr. Martin is now offering platelet-rich fibrin (PRF) in lieu of PRP. PRF was discovered more recently and has been found to be a superior product to PRP. The process of obtaining PRF is very simple. A small amount of blood is taken from the patient and then placed in a special centrifuge. This centrifuge separates the layers of blood and allows the platelet-dense layer to be collected for use. This final product is then placed into a syringe and can be injected directly into an area of injury. Platelet-rich fibrin is made up of both a high concentration of platelets and growth factors (GF), as well as a lower concentration of white blood cells and red blood cells. This high concentration of platelets and GF mimics the initial stages of inflammation that naturally occurs in the body around areas of damaged tissue, as the body prepares to heal the tissue. In creating these conditions around an injured area, a complex cascade of events is jump-started, which stimulates cells that can repair tissues and suppresses cells that cause further damage, thus enhancing repair and minimizing breakdown. This process can lead to accelerated tissue healing, a faster recovery and a reduction in recurrence.
There are some specific differences between PRP and PRF. PRF is processed in the centrifuge using a lower spin speed so that the platelet product can be kept more pure. PRF also has the advantage of using less heparin during the processing so that the final product is essentially more pure. The typical PRP product has anywhere from 2-5 times the platelet concentration that we typically have in our body. A PRF product has at least 10 times the platelet concentration we have in our body. Overall, PRF is the direction that platelet-derived regenerative medicine products will be moving in. We are very pleased to offer this product already.
Another extremely important topic is that of visualization. Dr. Martin takes great pride in performing every regenerative medicine procedure under either ultrasound guidance or x-ray guidance. All joint and soft tissue injections are visualized where the site of the injection can be evaluated and the needle can be seen entering the region to be treated, which provides reassurance that the medication is going in the correct location. For spinal conditions, x-ray guidance is used to appropriately localize either the disc or facet joint to be treated and is also used to make sure the location of the needle is accurate and safe. Dr. Martin considers it absolutely essential to perform all procedures under guidance in an effort to provide as excellent of care as possible.