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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine

Volume 5, Issue 12, December 2017

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1177/2325967117742077. Copyright © Gaspar et al.


Background: Recalcitrant lateral epicondylitis (LE) is a common debilitating condition, with numerous treatment options of varying success. An injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been shown to improve LE, although it is unclear whether the method of needling used in conjunction with a PRP injection is of clinical importance.

Purpose: To determine whether percutaneous needle tenotomy is superior to percutaneous needle fenestration when each is combined with a PRP injection for the treatment of recalcitrant LE.

Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: A total of 93 patients with recalcitrant LE were treated with a PRP injection and percutaneous needle fenestration (n = 45) or percutaneous needle tenotomy (n = 48) over a 5-year study interval. Preoperative patient data, including visual analog scale for pain (VAS-P), Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (QuickDASH), and Patient-Rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation (PRTEE) scores and grip strength, were obtained from a chart review and compared with postoperative values obtained prospectively. Secondary outcomes included the incidence of complications, need for additional interventions, return to work, and patient satisfaction.

Results: At a mean follow-up of 40 months, significant improvements in VAS-P (mean, -6.1; 95% CI, -6.8 to -5.5; P < .0001), QuickDASH (mean, -46; 95% CI, -52 to -40; P < .0001), and PRTEE (mean, -57; 95% CI, -64 to -50; P < .0001) scores and grip strength (mean, +6.1 kg; 95% CI, 4.9 to 7.3; P < .0001) were observed across the entire study cohort, with no significant differences noted between the fenestration and tenotomy groups. Nine of 45 patients (22%) underwent additional procedures to treat recurrent symptoms in the fenestration group compared with 5 of 48 patients (10%) in the tenotomy group (P = .05). No complications occurred in any patients, and no patients expressed dissatisfaction with their treatment course.

Conclusion: A PRP injection with concomitant percutaneous needling is an effective treatment for recalcitrant LE, with sustained improvements in pain, strength, and function demonstrated at a mean follow-up of longer than 3 years. Although the method of concomitant needling does not appear to have a significant effect on treatment outcomes, more aggressive needle tenotomy is less likely to require conversion to open tenotomy than needle fenestration in the short term to midterm.

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