Synovial fluid replacement therapy to revolutionise treatment for OA

By: Irish Medical News – Irish Medical News – Monday, July 18, 2005

A meeting took place in Dublin recently to discuss the treatment of osteoarthritis, a condition that up to 400,000 people in Ireland suffer from each year.

This meeting, which was hosted by Premier Medical and chaired by Dr Douglas Veale, consultant rheumatologist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, was an informative symposium on recent changes in the treatment of osteoarthritis and sport injuries of the knee. Synovial fluid replacement therapy was also introduced at the meeting.

Guest speaker Dr Robert J Petrella, Medical Director at the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging, gave insights into the use of synovial fluid replacement therapy using hyaluronan, and also showed the results of research on the treatment and its different applications and benefits.

This information was welcomed by the Irish doctors as being a positive addition to current practises, especially in light of recent limitations regarding the prescription of anti-inflammatory drugs, according to Premier Medical.

This therapy, involving a series of injections into the knee joint, results in pain relief which can last up to six months. It also prevents further loss of cartilage in some cases. The patient’s reliance on other pain relieving medications is also significantly reduced, claim the manufacturers Premier Medical. It is valuable for patients who find themselves on long waiting lists to see an orthopaedic surgeon as it can delay the necessity for knee replacement surgery in suitable cases. It also improves function in patients with OA of the knee, thus increasing their mobility and allowing them to exercise, says the company. This therapy is available on the GMS.

It can also be effectively used in the treatment of sport injuries to the knee, providing athletes with pain relief, reducing the need for anti-inflammatory drugs.

The therapy, known also as viscosupplementation using hyaluronan, came into clinical use in Japan and Italy in 1987, in Canada in 1992, and in Europe in 1995. It has been approved in the US since 1997.

The product Suplasyn, a prescription-only product, is now available on the GMS in Ireland since February.

The length of waiting lists for orthopaedic and rheumatology services can cause further difficulty for patients in extreme pain. Currently, the standard treatment for these patients is weight loss and physiotherapy. If this approach is not successful, analgesics, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs, may be used, as well as steroid injections. However, the effects of these may only last up to six weeks.

Another recent development is the use of Hyaluronan in the area of sport-medicine. Many patients have been treated successfully to date and this therapy and its applications to sport medicine are currently attracting a lot of interest from specialists world-wide. However, hyaluronan injections can prevent further loss of cartilage, states Premier Medical.

This is good news for team doctors, sportspersons, GPs and physiotherapists where early symptoms of wear and tear osteoarthritis are apparent.

This becomes more apparent when considering the results of a survey of over 260 top GAA players, which was conducted by Dr Veale, with the help of team doctors. Conducted during last year’s championship season, the results of the survey showed that 65 per cent of players were suffering pain and stiffness compared to rates of around 10 per cent in the general population.

Irish Medical News


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