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What's the point of using the new platelet-plasma spray for wound healing after knee replacement? Is the added expense really worth it if the results are the same in the end?

Today's technology has allowed surgeons to remove a small amount of a patient's blood and use it in a spray form to speed up the healing process. A special machine spins the blood and separates it into three layers. The top layer is made up of plasma with very few platelets. The second layer is plasma with most of the platelets. The third layer is made up of red blood cells.

In the natural healing process, the body sends large numbers of platelets to an injury site. Upon arrival, the platelets 'turn on' and become sticky. They form tiny plugs to close off areas of bleeding. The new method of using platelet-rich plasma may activate platelets faster and in greater numbers.

So far only short-term studies have been reported using this new method of tissue healing. Long-term results are needed to make comparisons in treatment results. However, sometimes improved short-term benefits are enough to make it worth it even if the outcomes are the same 12 months later.

For example, early studies show patients who have the platelet-rich plasma sprayed on the wound after a total knee operation go home from the hospital sooner. They need less pain medication and fewer blood transfusions. The improved knee range of motion reported means faster recovery of function.

All of these things translate into reduced costs and improved quality of life and patient satisfaction. It's likely that with enhanced healing there are fewer infections or other complications that slow progress. These benefits are theoretical and haven't been proven yet.


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