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Tiger Woods, Dr. Galea, Gossip and PRP Injections

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When it rains it pours. Clearly, Tiger Woods is in the midst of a profound marital crisis. Therefore, by definition it is personal in nature and doesn't concern me.

There appears to be a physician in Canada by the name of Dr. Anthony Galea that may have treated Tiger Woods with a legal and ethical treatment called Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP).

Dr. Galea, who represents himself as a sports medicine specialist, is a family physician, not an orthopedic surgeon. He apparently has issues with Canadian law enforcement regarding his involvement with performance enhancing drugs including HGH, Actovegin and anabolic steroids.

These appear to be the facts and where the story should have properly concluded. But as we all know, just reporting the facts is rarely interesting.

Fact: Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy is an interesting and promising technique that is still under intense review. PRP's efficacy and appropriate clinical indications (when and where it should be used) are currently being researched and yet to be definitively determined.

The theory behind PRP is actually quite simple: use components of a persons own blood to stimulate the natural healing process.

The properly trained nurse draws a small amount of the patient's blood (usually 2 tablespoons or about 30 cc's) and then spins the blood, with the use of a centrifuge, in a special filtering tube. This process separates and concentrates the blood into a small amount (about 1 teaspoon or 5 cc's) of platelet rich plasma. This natural component of blood is rich in normal factors that encourage healing of soft tissue (muscle, tendons, ligaments etc...) and bone.

The physician (usually an orthopedic surgeon) injects the PRP into inflamed or slow to heal tissues (think chronic tennis elbow and knee or Achilles tendonitis). Some leading orthopedic surgeons are actually incorporating PRP during surgery for complex rotator cuff repairs.

PRP has been used for years during plastic surgery, difficult wound healing (especially in diabetics) and extensively by oral maxillofacial surgeons.

Fiction/Misinformation: Dr. Galea 'invented' this technique. FALSE

Fiction/Misinformation: PRP is similar to illegal blood doping or blood packing. FALSE

There are no additional chemicals/drugs (other than bicarb to adjust the ph so that the injection doesn't hurt) added to the PRP. There is no extra blood or chemicals/drugs that stimulate blood cell production given during this procedure.

FACT: Actovegin is a Swiss chemical/drug/product derived from calf's blood with purported benefits that are unproven and roundly dismissed. Actovegin possession or use is illegal in the US.

If Tiger Woods had a PRP procedure performed on his surgically reconstructed knee to help with tendonitis or painful inflammation (that commonly occurs after this type of surgery) it would be a very reasonable use of this technique as we understand it today.

Is this a case of a rogue physician? Only time will tell. But once again if it is gossip that in any way can be related to the currently embattled Tiger Woods it has legs. Too bad this innuendo didn't come with some NSFW pictures attached.

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