Local surgeon uses patient’s own blood to ease knee surgeries

Published 12:11 am Sunday, January 30, 2011

A few spoonfuls of your own blood may mean faster healing and less blood loss for knee-replacement patients, a Natchez orthopedic surgeon said.

Dr. Jeffrey Traina recently returned from a trip to Egypt where he presented a study on the use of platelet-rich plasma in knee-replacement patients.

His presentation was made at the fourth annual International Arthroplasty Conference in Sharm Elsheikh, Egypt.

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Traina presented the same paper to the International Society for Technical Arthoplasty’s 23rd annual congress in Dubai in October.

Traina moved to Natchez last fall. The results of the paper he presented were obtained in patients he treated prior to relocating to Natchez.

He started using the treatment method in 2005 and has used it ever since, including surgeries done in Natchez.

Healing power of PRP

PRP use is a relatively new therapy, Traina said, so scientific data is just being gathered.

“My study was to look at using platelet-rich plasma to help stop bleeding after total knee replacement surgery,” Traina said. “Knee replacement surgery, historically, has a high transfusion rate, meaning they lose a lot of blood.”

Traina said typical transfusion rates could range from 30 to 50 percent — or more.

In his study of 81 patients, each was treated with PRP.

“Only 2.4 percent of patients in the study needed a transfusion,” Traina said.

Scientifically, he said, more studies would need to be done to confirm the results he’s seen with patients. But he’s seen enough evidence to continue the use of PRP.

In addition to the uses Traina has studied, PRP is increasingly being used to help the body heal itself in other orthopedic ways. A number of high profile athletes have used PRP therapy in recent years to help heal damaged tendons.

What is PRP?

Platelet-rich plasma is a fairly simple product, made from the patient’s own blood.

“Before the operation, we draw approximately four tablespoons of blood from the patient and process it,” Traina said.

Blood consists of two components, red blood cells and plasma, which contains platelets. The red blood cells are discarded, leaving highly concentrated levels of platelets remaining in the plasma.

“At the conclusion of the operation, before we put our stitches in, we inject this into the wound,” Traina said.

“There’s a lot of healing factors in that fluid. Scientists believe PRP may help stop bleeding, prevent infections, treat infections and speed up healing.”

Ever-growing use

Traina said to his knowledge use of PRP to prevent blood loss and improve healing after knee-replacement surgery is not being done anywhere else in the area.

But he said believes as more scientific studies are completed the practice will become more commonplace.

“There are lots of studies on platelet-rich plasma going on nationwide,” he said. “This is very exciting stuff.”

Traina completed his medical degree from Southern Illinois School of Medicine and completed his orthopedic surgical residency at Wake Forest University/North Carolina Baptist Hospital.

He completed fellowships through Harvard University at Massachusetts General Hospital and at Boston Children’s Hospital. In addition, he taught at the university of Texas Medical School and the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

His Natchez practice is with Community Orthopedic Clinic, an affiliate of Natchez Community Hospital.