Purpose: Bone-patellar tendon-bone technique (BPTB) for anterior cruciate ligament injuries is associated with a higher risk of donor-site morbidity. To evaluate whether platelet-rich plasma (PRP), due to its anti-inflammatory properties and capacity to stimulate tissue regeneration, was able to reduce the anterior knee pain, the kneeling pain, and donor-site morbidity, as evidenced by evaluation of VISA and VAS scoring scales and MRI analysis of the tendon and bone defect, we performed a clinical randomized controlled study where PRP gel was applied to donor site after ACL reconstruction with BPTB.
Methods: Forty young athletes with the indication of ACL reconstruction with patellar tendon grafts were randomly assigned to group A (n = 20 patients, control group) or group B (n = 20 patients, PRP group). The autologous PRP gel was applied to both the patellar and tendon bone plug harvest site and stabilized by the peritenon suture. At 12-month follow-up, all patients underwent clinical examination and VAS and VISA questionnaires, respectively, evaluating the average daily pain of the knee and the pain during particular activities involving the knee, were filled. MRI at the same time point was also performed.
Results: VISA scores were significantly higher in the patients treated with PRP (84.5 ± 11.8 and 97.8 ± 2.5 for group A and for group B; P = 0.041), whereas no significant difference in postoperative VAS scores between the two groups was observed (1 ± 1.4 and 0.6 ± 0.9 for group A and group B, n.s.). In 85% of PRP group patients, the tibial and patellar bone defect was satisfactorily filled by new bony tissue (>70% of bone gap filled), whereas this percentage was just of 60% in control group patients, but this difference was not statistically significant.
Conclusions: The study shows the usefulness of PRP in reducing subjective pain at the donor-site level after ACL reconstruction with BPTB. However, this approach deserves further investigations to confirm PRP efficacy and to elucidate its mechanism of action.
Level of evidence: Prospective randomized controlled study, Level I.