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I read a small report in the paper about using the patient's own platelets to speed up healing after joint replacement. Is there anything to this?

Since joint replacement surgery is becoming one of the most common surgeries performed on adults, scientists are looking for ways to enhance or speed up healing. Patients who get back on their feet with greater motion sooner have the best results. Anything that can improve the postoperative healing is of interest to doctors.

The body's own natural system uses platelets in the blood to plug up any holes in the blood vessels or damage to the tissues. For big holes, platelets clump together to form a blood clot. The idea behind the new platelet-rich plasma sprayed onto surgical wounds is to enhance or improve tissue healing.

New technology has made it possible to test out theories like this. Surgeons can now remove a small amount of the patient's own blood during the operation. The blood is processed and prepared then sprayed onto the cut bone, synovium, tendons, and joint capsule.

The system needed to make platelet-rich plasma spray is available commercially. It's already being used in plastic and cosmetic surgery as well as some dental procedures. Early studies have reported on its use in heart bypass and spinal fusion surgeries. It's also being tried with chronic skin and soft tissue ulcers in diabetic foot ulcers.


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