Comparison of the Clinical Effectiveness of Single Versus Multiple Injections of Platelet-Rich Plasma in the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Orthop J Sports Med. 2019 Dec 16;7(12):2325967119887116. doi: 10.1177/2325967119887116. eCollection 2019 Dec.


Background: Reports have concluded that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is an effective and safe biological approach in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis (OA). However, no consensus has been established regarding the number of injections required to observe a therapeutic effect.

Purpose: To compare the clinical effectiveness reported in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of single versus multiple PRP injections in the treatment of knee OA.

Study design: Systematic review; Level of evidence, 1.

Methods: A comprehensive search was conducted for RCTs published between 1970 and 2019 that compared the effect of single versus multiple PRP injections on pain and functionality in patients with knee OA. Searched databases included MEDLINE, Scopus, Embase, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials. A data extraction form was designed to obtain bibliographic information of the study as well as patient, intervention, comparison, and outcomes of interest data. A random-effects model was used to pool quantitative data from the primary outcomes.

Results: We included 5 clinical trials with a low-moderate risk of bias that reported data for 301 patients. Meta-analysis showed that, at 6 months after the intervention, single and multiple (double or triple) injections had similar pain improvement, with no significant differences (standardized mean difference [SMD], 0.61 [95% CI, -1.09 to 2.31]; I 2 = 97%; P = .48). A significant improvement in knee functionality was observed in favor of multiple injections (SMD, 2.29 [95% CI, 0.45-4.12]; I 2 = 97%; P = .01). Subanalysis showed that the significant improvement was only evident for the results of single versus triple injections (SMD, 3.12 [95% CI, 0.64-5.60]; I 2 = 97%; P = .01).

Conclusion: According to our results, a single injection was as effective as multiple PRP injections in pain improvement; however, multiple injections seemed more effective in joint functionality than a single injection at 6 months. We consider that the available evidence is still insufficient, and future research on this specific topic is needed to confirm our results.

Keywords: functionality; injection; knee osteoarthritis; meta-analysis; platelet-rich plasma.

Publication types

  • Review