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IMpact of Platelet Rich Plasma Over Alternative Therapies in Patients with Lateral Epicondylitis (IMPROVE): Protocol for a Multicenter Randomized Controlled Study: A Multicenter, Randomized Trial Comparing Autologous Platelet-Rich Plasma, Autologous Whole Blood, Dry Needle Tendon Fenestration, and Physical Therapy Exercises Alone on Pain and Quality of Life in Patients with Lateral Epicondylitis

Academic Radiology
DOI: 10.1016/j.acra.2014.05.003
  • Lateral Epicondylitis
  • Platelet-Rich Protein
  • Whole Blood Injection
  • Dry Needle Tendon Fenestration
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Economics
  • Medicine
  • Philosophy


Introduction Lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow, is the most common cause of lateral elbow pain and the second most frequently diagnosed musculoskeletal disorder in the neck and upper limb in a primary care setting. Many therapeutic options, including conservative, surgical, and minimally invasive procedures, have been advocated for the treatment of lateral epicondylitis. Although numerous small studies have been performed to assess the efficacy of various treatments, there are conflicting results with no clear consensus on the optimal treatment. In an economic environment with limited health care resources, it is paramount that optimal cost-effective therapies with favorable patient-important outcomes be identified. Methods and Analysis This is a protocol paper which outlines a multicenter, multidisciplinary, single-blinded, four-arm randomized controlled trial, comparing platelet-rich plasma (PRP), whole blood injection, dry needle tendon fenestration, and sham injection with physical therapy alone for the treatment of lateral epicondylitis. Patients are screened based on pre-established eligibility criteria and randomized to one of the four study groups using an Internet-based system. The patients are followed at 6-week, 12-week, 24-week, and 52-week time points to assess the primary and secondary outcomes of the study. The primary outcome is pain. Secondary outcomes include health-related quality of life and ultrasound appearance of the common extensor tendon. Two university centers (McMaster University and the University of Michigan) are currently recruiting patients. We have planned a sample size of 100 patients (25 patients per arm) to ensure over 80% power to detect a three-point difference in pain scores at 52 weeks of follow-up. Ethics and Dissemination This study has ethics approval from the McMaster University Research Ethics Board (REB# 12-146) and the University of Michigan Institutional Review Board (IRB# HUM00067750). Successful completion of this proposed study will significantly impact clinical practice and enhance patients' lives. More broadly, this trial will develop a network of collaboration from which further high-quality trials in ultrasound-guided interventions will follow.

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