For a few years, professional athletes have been using platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy to help their injuries heal faster. Though research is debatable about whether PRP therapy is effective in faster healing, it seems at least promising. Some people are even using it to encourage hair growth. PRP therapy, though, might actually be beneficial to IC patients as well to help heal their bladders.
What is PRP therapy?
Our blood is filled with platelets, which promote blood clotting (so we don’t bleed too much when cut) and also help wounds to heal. Since platelets help wounds heal and can help reduce inflammation then doctors and researchers theorize that having a high concentration of platelets in a damaged area of the body can help encourage wounds to heal better and faster.(1)
A small amount of a patient’s blood is taken and then put into a centrifuge to spin at high speed. The spinning separates out the platelets. The doctor then injects the platelets into the hurt area. The platelet concentration in the injection is five to 10 times higher than in untreated blood.(1) The high number of platelets then stimulates and increased the body’s reparative cells and gets to work healing.(2)
A case report from 2017
In 2017, researchers from Italy published a case report using a type of PRP therapy called platelet rich fibrin (PRF) for treating IC patients. The researchers looked at only two IC patients, both of whom were female with a mean age of 60. The researchers hypothesized that since IC is caused from a cellular alteration of the bladder wall that PRF therapy could work to help repair the bladder wall and improve symptoms.(3)
The doctors placed the IC patients under anesthesia or sedation and used a cystoscopy to help them spray 6 mL of PRF all over the patients’ bladder walls. During the follow-up 28 days and 3 months after the procedure, both women reported a significant decrease in IC symptoms. They also reported a better quality of life and improved mental health as well. The researchers concluded that PRF seems to help improve the urothelium coating in IC bladders, thus improving patients’ symptoms. While the findings are encouraging, the researchers stated that further studies are needed.(3)
A study from 2018
Researchers from Taiwan presented a study at the annual American Urological Association meeting in 2018 about the efficacy of PRP therapy treatments for IC patients. The study was comprised of 34 IC patients who each received four monthly injections of PRP that had been extracted from their own blood. Of the 34 patients, 21 had completed the four injections and follow-up visits by the time the study was presented. The patients showed significant decreases in frequency and night-time urination. The researchers concluded that PRP injections could be an effective treatment for IC that provides significant symptom relief. They noted that patients tolerated the injections well.(4)
A study from 2019
In February of 2019, a couple of the same researchers from Taiwan along with a third researcher published another study looking at the use of PRP therapy for IC patients. The 37 women and 3 men in the study received four injections of PRP taken from their own blood. After the first injection, 45% of the patients had improved symptoms. However, by the third and fourth injections, 70% of patients had improved symptoms. At the three-month follow-up appointment, 67.5% of the patients were still improved. The patients’ pain scores, frequency and night-time voiding were reduced. Patients’ bladder capacities also increased. In all, the researchers concluded that PRP therapy for some IC patients can increase bladder capacity and reduce symptoms.(5)
- Nall R., et. al. What You Need to Know About PRP. Medical News Today. Nov. 21, 2017.
- Hospital for Special Surgery. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections.
- Falavolti C., et. al. Endovesical instillation of platelet rich fibrin for treatment of interstitial cystitis: case report of two patients. Mini-invasive Surg. Dec. 28, 2017.
- Wu S., et. al. MP39-14 Therapeutic Effect of Platelet-Rich-Plasma Intravesical Repeat Injections for Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome Refractory to Conventional Treatment. Journal of Urology. April 2018 Volume 99, No. 4S.
- Jhang JF., et. al. Intravesical Injections of Platelet-Rich Plasma is Effective and Safe in Treatment of Interstitial Cystitis Refractory to Conventional Treatment-A Prospective Clinical Trial. Neurourol Urodyn. Feb 2019 Volume 3, No. 2.