Background: Basic science studies suggest that platelet-rich therapies have a positive effect on tendon repair. However, the clinical evidence is conflicted on whether this translates to increased tendon healing and improved functional outcomes.
Purpose: To perform a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the literature to ascertain whether platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or platelet-rich fibrin (PRF) improved patient outcomes in arthroscopic rotator cuff repair.
Study design: Meta-analysis.
Methods: Two independent reviewers performed the literature search based on the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines, with a third author resolving any discrepancies. RCTs comparing PRP or PRF to a control in rotator cuff repair were included. Quality of evidence was assessed using the Jadad score. Clinical outcomes were compared using the risk ratio for dichotomous variables and the mean difference for continuous variables. A P value <.05 was deemed statistically significant.
Results: Eighteen RCTs with 1147 patients were included in this review. PRP resulted in significantly decreased rates of incomplete tendon healing for all tears combined (17.2% vs 30.5%, respectively; P < .05), incomplete tendon healing in small-medium tears (22.4% vs 38.3%, respectively; P < .05), and incomplete tendon healing in medium-large tears (12.3% vs 30.5%, respectively; P < .05) compared to the control. There was a significant result in favor of PRP for the Constant score (85.6 vs 83.1, respectively; P < .05) and the visual analog scale score for pain at 30 days postoperatively (2.9 vs 4.3, respectively; P < .05) and at final follow-up (1.2 vs 1.4, respectively; P < .05) compared to the control. PRF did not result in a significantly decreased rate of incomplete tendon healing for all tears combined (23.0% vs 24.6%, respectively; P = .74) or an improved Constant score (80.8 vs 79.8, respectively; P = .27) compared to the control. PRF resulted in a significantly longer operation time (99.1 vs 83.3 minutes, respectively; P< .05) compared to the control.
Conclusion: The current evidence indicates that the use of PRP in rotator cuff repair results in improved healing rates, pain levels, and functional outcomes. In contrast, PRF has been shown to have no benefit in improving tendon healing rates or functional outcomes.
Keywords: biologic; meta-analysis; platelet-rich plasma; rotator cuff; systematic review.