Platelet-rich plasma for the treatment of lateral epicondylitis: sonographic assessment of tendon morphology and vascularity (pilot study)
To investigate the efficacy of using contrast-enhanced ultrasound to assess the relationship of altered vascularity and tendon morphology following injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) for lateral epicondylitis.
Materials and methods
This study prospectively evaluated six patients who had a baseline ultrasound confirming tendinosis of the common extensor tendon. Patients received a single 3-ml PRP injection under ultrasound guidance. Grayscale images of the injected elbow were obtained at baseline and were repeated at 1 and 6 months after injection. DEFINITY® contrast was also injected after by 2 sets of wrist-extension exercises in order to obtain contrast-enhanced images of the elbow. Qualitative and quantitative analyses of the level of enhancement to the regions of interest were performed using off-line quantitative analysis software.
All patients had either moderate or severe common extensor tendinosis as determined on clinical examination and baseline imaging. Five patients demonstrated improved tendon morphology using ultrasound imaging 6 months after PRP injection (one patient was lost to follow-up). At baseline, there was evidence of increased vascularity at the myotendinous junction (MT) of the common extensor tendon when compared to its footprint (FP). There was a trend towards no change in FP vascularity between baseline and 6 months (p = 0.062) and between 1 and 6 months (p = 0.288). There was a trend for increased vascularity to the MT region from baseline to 6 months (p = 0.433) and from 1 to 6 months (p = 0.783).
Contrast-enhanced ultrasound provides a sensitive method the display alterations in vascularity in the common extensor tendon of the elbow. PRP therapy for lateral epicondylitis can improve extensor tendon morphology. Corresponding increased extensor tendon FP vascularity, however, was not seen. There is a trend for increased vascularity at the MT up to 6 months following PRP injection, based on limited pilot data.