Platelet rich fibrin (PRF) is a by-product of blood (plasma) that is rich in platelets. Until now, its use has been confined to the hospital setting. This was due mainly to the cost of separating the platelets from the blood and the large amount of blood needed to produce a suitable quantity of platelets. New technology permits doctors to harvest and produce a sufficient quantity of platelets from only 20-50 cc of blood, which is drawn from the patient while they are having outpatient surgery.
Why All The Excitement About PRF?
PRF permits the body to take advantage of the normal healing pathways at a greatly accelerated rate. During the healing process, the body rushes many cell types to the wound in order to initiate the healing process. Platelets are one of those cell types. Platelets perform many functions, including formation of a blood clot and release of growth factors (GF) into the wound. These growth factors; platelet derived growth factors (PDGF), transforming growth factor beta (TGF), and insulin-like growth factor (ILGF), function to assist the body in repairing itself by stimulating stem cells to regenerate new tissue. The more growth factors released and sequestered into the wound, the more stem cells are stimulated to produce new tissue. Thus, PRF permits the body to heal faster and more efficiently.
A particularly important component is bone morphogenic protein (BMP). It has been shown to induce the formation of new bone in research studies. This is of great significance to the surgeon who places dental implants. By adding PRF to the implant site with bone substitute particles, the implant surgeon can now grow bone more predictably and faster than ever before.
PRF Has Many Clinical Applications
PRF can be used to aid bone grafting for dental implants. This includes sinus lift procedures, ridge augmentation procedures, and palate defects. It can also assist in repair of bone defects created by removal of teeth, or small cysts and repair of fistulas between the sinus cavity and mouth.
PRF Also Has Many Advantages
Safety: PRF is a by-product of the patient’s own blood, therefore, disease transmission is not an issue.
Convenience: PRF can be generated in the doctor’s office while the patient is undergoing an outpatient surgical procedure such as the placement of dental implants.
Faster healing: The supersaturation of the wound with PRF, and thus growth factors, produces an increase of tissue synthesis and faster tissue regeneration.
Cost effectiveness: Since PRF harvesting is done with only 20-50 cc of blood in the doctor’s office, the patient need not incur the expense of the harvesting procedure in hospital or at a blood bank.
Ease of use: PRF is easy to handle and actually improves the ease of application of bone substitute materials and bone grafting products by making them more gel-like.
Frequently Asked Questions About PRF
Is PRF safe?
Yes. During the outpatient surgical procedure a small amount of your own blood is drawn out via the IV. This blood is then placed in the PRF centrifuge machine and spun down. In around 30 minutes, the PRF is formed and ready to use.
Should PRF be used in all bone-grafting cases?
Not always. In some cases, there is no need for PRF. However, in the majority of cases, application of PRF to the graft will increase the final amount of bone present, in addition to making the wound heal faster and more efficiently.
Will my insurance cover the costs?
Unfortunately, they usually will not. The cost of the PRF application (approximately $550) is paid by the patient.
Can PRF be used alone to stimulate bone formation?
Yes. Platelets can be used on their own but they are very soft without graft material mixed in. Typically, PRF must be mixed with either the patient’s own bone, a bone substitute material such as demineralized freeze-dried bone, or a synthetic bone product. This provides the strength and physical dimension to create the volume of required bone.
Are there any contraindications to PRF?
Very few. Obviously, patients with bleeding disorders or hematologic diseases do not qualify for this in-office procedure. Check with your surgeon to determine if PRF is right for you.