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PRP procedure: Using patient's blood for healing

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PRP procedure: Using patient's blood for healing

Scott Marshall is at the Andrews Institute to get Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP) injected into his knee.

"I've had surgery on both knees in the past 10 years," said Marshall.

One knee stabilized, the other is an almost constant source of pain. Marshall is hoping PRP will wipe out the lingering inflammation and allow him to play golf and tennis once again.

He continued, "It's worth a try, it's better than eventually having to have surgery. I'd rather try this."

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Adam Anz draws Marshalls' blood and has it spun into layers in a centrifuge. Anz injects the plasma layer in Marshalls' knee.

The specialist said that PRP is a proven treatment for arthritic knee pain.

Anz continued, "It's taken us 20 years to figure out exactly how to use it and to have good evidence behind it to tell you that it really can help your knees."

Anz is leading four different regenerative medicine clinical trials at the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze. Some of his research focuses on how PRP and bone marrow can help other damaged joints besides knees, other trials are exploring if those entities can also help heal tendon and ligaments more quickly if injected during surgical procedures.

Anz said patients are hopeful and curious about the applications of PRP, a topic he fields often.

"Every day people are asking me about these cell technologies and say, 'Well, I heard this and I heard that and I read this and I read that,'" he said.

Anz said that some clinics across the country are using the components of regenerative medicine like PRP, bone marrow and stem cells recklessly, in improper ways with horrendous results.

"Some clinicians were taking an adipose product and injecting it into peoples' eyes and there were some people who became blind after that," he elaborated. Anz worries that patients are a vulnerable population. "There are four things that people will use in this space; hope, hype, logistics, and truth."

The best way to learn the truth about any potential medical procedure is to check the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data. Anz pointed out it is all accessible on the FDA website.

"We need to really prove things are safe and effective before we just start broadly marketing them," he reiterated.

Patient A.J. Calabro had PRP injections about a year ago on his left knee.

"The first couple of months, I wasn't real pleased cause I didn't feel any differently," he said. While PRP has been proven to help with knee pain, Anz cautions his patients they'll heal in their own time and results are not instant.

Calabro agreed, "By the six-month mark, I felt like it was never hurt and it's been nine months to a year now and I've had no problem with it."

Regenerative medical techniques may have to be repeated over time and PRP is not currently covered by insurance. Anz said that over the last three decades, this field has improved tremendously when it comes to surgical, carpentry skills, and adding regenerative medicine to that is the future.

"The next 30 years is about the biology and how to apply the biology," he declared.