Platelet-Rich Plasma Injection Can Be a Viable Alternative to Corticosteroid Injection for Conservative Treatment of Rotator Cuff Disease: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials


      To explore whether platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection can be a viable alternative to corticosteroid (CS) injection for conservative treatment of rotator cuff disease.


      This study was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. PubMed, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library, and Web of Science were searched from January 1, 1990, to March 20, 2022, for English-language randomized controlled trials that compared PRP and CS injections for patients with rotator cuff disease. Two evaluators independently screened the literature, extracted data, and assessed the level of evidence and methodologic quality of the enrolled studies. The meta-analysis was conducted using RevMan software (version 5.3.3).


      Thirteen nonsurgical randomized controlled trials with 725 patients were included. Compared with CS, PRP provided statistically worse short-term (<2 months) changes in American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) assessment scores, Simple Shoulder Test scores, and Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand questionnaire scores but provided better medium-term (2-6 months) changes in Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand scores, as well as long-term (≥6 months) changes in Constant-Murley scores, ASES scores, and Simple Shoulder Test scores. No statistically significant differences regarding pain reduction were found between the 2 groups. PRP injections led to worse short-term changes in forward flexion and internal rotation but better medium-term changes in forward flexion and external rotation. PRP showed significantly lower rates of post-injection failure (requests for subsequent injections or surgical intervention prior to 12 months) than CS. No outcome reached the minimal clinically important difference. After sensitivity analyses excluding studies with substantial clinical and/or methodologic heterogeneity, PRP showed better medium-term changes in ASES scores and visual analog scale scores and long-term changes in visual analog scale scores that reached the minimal clinically important difference.


      Without the drawbacks of CS injection, PRP injection is not worse than CS injection in terms of pain relief and function recovery at any time point during follow-up. PRP injection may reduce rates of subsequent injection or surgery, and it might provide better improvements in pain and function in the medium to long term. PRP injection can be a viable alternative to CS injection for conservative treatment of rotator cuff disease.

      Level of Evidence

      Meta-analysis of Level I and II studies.
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