Purpose: Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common causes of shoulder malfunction and pain, which lead to a significant reduction in the quality of life. This present study investigated the effects of subacromial platelet-rich plasma injections [i.e. autologous conditioned plasma (ACP) injections] as compared to standard subacromial cortisone injection therapy in 50 patients with partial rotator cuff tears.
Methods: Before injection, and 6 weeks, 12 weeks and 6 months thereafter, the patients were assessed by the Constant-Murley score (CMS), the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons Standardized Shoulder Assessment Form (ASES), the simple shoulder test (SST) and a pain visual analogue scale (VAS). An MRI was also performed before and 6 months after injection.
Results: Both patient groups had statistically significant better shoulder score outcomes over time. ASES, SST and CMS outcomes after 12 versus 6 weeks were better in the ACP group as compared to the cortisone group. VAS, ASES and CMS outcomes after 12 weeks versus baseline in the ACP group were better as compared to the cortisone group. There was a statistically significant difference between ACP group and cortisone group 12 weeks after injection regarding VAS, ASES, SST and CMS in favour of the ACP group. The MRI showed an improvement in grade of tendinopathy in both groups, however, without statistically significant differences between the two groups.
Conclusion: Compared with cortisone injections, ACP injections show earlier benefit as compared to cortisone injections although a statistically significant difference after 6 months could not be found. Therefore, subacromial ACP injections are a good alternative to subacromial cortisone injections, especially in patients with contraindication to cortisone.
Level of evidence: Therapeutic study, Level III.
Keywords: Autologous conditioned plasma; Platelet-rich plasma; Rotator cuff; Shoulder pain; Subacromial impingement syndrome.