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Regenerative medicine alternative to surgery | Healthwatch 16

Newswatch 16's Courtney Harrison shows us how doctors perform the procedure and why more people are seeking out this type of treatment.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Dr. Joseph Pannick is a veterinarian from Dalton, but on this day, the doctor is the patient. About 12 years ago, Dr. Pannick found out the meniscus in his knee was deteriorating.

"It was painful. Inflammation, ambulation was very, very difficult. We have a farm, and we do a lot of things. We're an ambulatory vet. We're walking a lot, things like that."

Dr. Pannick previously tried other treatments to get relief, but nothing seemed to work long-term. He consulted with Dr. Justin Tunis at Geisinger Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, and they decided to try a type of regenerative medicine called platelet-rich plasma or PRP.

"Platelet-rich plasma is taking someone's plasma from a vein in their arm, spinning it very quickly in a centrifuge, and concentrating the platelets within the plasma," Dr. Tunis explained.

Dr. Pannick sees Dr. Tunis every six months for PRP maintenance on his knee. Before injecting the knee, Dr. Tunis uses an ultrasound to find the exact area of the knee where the plasma will go.

The outpatient procedure takes about half an hour. Dr. Pannick says he feels significantly better, and the procedure has allowed him to recover faster and get back to work.

"I think people want to avoid surgery. If you need it, you need it, but the idea that you could afford not to have it done, that's the purpose," Dr. Pannick said.

"Folks that get PRP injections may notice a little more stiffness for a week or two after the procedure. The full improvement can take up to six to 12 weeks, so that's a little bit different than a traditional injection such as a steroid or a gel injection, but it is a sustained, progressive improvement over about a three-month period," Dr. Tunis said.

Dr. Tunis also said many of his other patients who received PRP only required one treatment to have relief.

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