Background: The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the benefit of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in non-surgical orthopaedic procedures.
Material and methods: We searched the Cochrane Wounds Specialized Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE (through PUBMED), Embase, and SCOPUS. We also searched clinical trials registries for ongoing and unpublished studies and checked reference lists to identify additional studies.
Results: We found 36 randomised controlled trials (2,073 patients) that met our inclusion criteria. The included studies mostly had small numbers of participants (from 20 to 225). Twenty-eight studies included patients with lateral epicondylitis or plantar fasciitis. PRP was compared to local steroids injection (19 studies), saline injection (6 studies), autologous whole blood (4 studies), local anaesthetic injection (3 studies), dry needling injection (3 studies), and to other comparators (4 studies). Primary outcomes were pain and function scores, and adverse events. On average, it is unclear whether or not use of PRP compared to controls reduces pain scores and functional score at short- (up to 3 months) and medium- (4-6 months) term follow-up. The available evidence for all the comparisons was rated as very low quality due to inconsistency, imprecision, and risk of bias in most of the selected studies. There were no serious adverse events related to PRP injection or control treatments.
Conclusions: The results of this meta-analysis, which documents the very marginal effectiveness of PRP compared to controls, does not support the use of PRP as conservative treatment in orthopaedics.