Platelet Gel

Platelet Gel

PEP Topic 

Use of platelet-rich plasma to create a plastic and adhesive gel that can be used for local treatment of damaged tissue was examined for effect in management of radiodermatitis. 

Effectiveness Not Established

Research Evidence Summaries

Iervolino, V., Di Costanzo, G., Azzaro, R., Diodato, A.M., Di Macchia, C.A., Di Meo, T., . . . Cacciapuoti, C. (2013). Platelet gel in cutaneous radiation dermatitis. Supportive Care in Cancer, 21, 287–293.  

doi: 10.1007/s00520-012-1635-0

Study Purpose:

To evaluate the effectiveness of an autologous platelet gel dressing in treating chronic skin dermatitis due to radiation therapy

Intervention Characteristics/Basic Study Process:

After being prepared in a lab on the same day, the authors detail a "homemade" platelet gel made from the patient's blood. This gel patch was applied with the intent of promoting healing and tissue repair. Each gel application was cut to the size of the affected area of chronic dermatitis/ulcer from radiation therapy and applied weekly for 35 days. The area was digitally imaged before, during, and after treatment by unidentified provider type(s) at the transfusional medicine department of the Naples Tumour Institute. Unidentified staff evaluated the condition of the wounds after treatment—immediately after treatment in five patients, six months later in three patients, one year later in one patient, and two years later in another patient.

Sample Characteristics:

  • N = 10  
  • AGE = 26–81 years
  • MALES: 90%, FEMALES: 10%
  • KEY DISEASE CHARACTERISTICS: High to moderate grade tumor, limb sarcoma (upper and lower, right and left)
  • OTHER KEY SAMPLE CHARACTERISTICS: Patients received 54–64 Gy radiation therapy post-surgically. Using guidelines and scoring according to the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (EPUAP) and Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE), all patients had developed third and fourth degree chronic skin ulcers. For two months prior to being enrolled in this study, all patients previously had tried other traditional treatments for skin dermatitis (e.g., hydrogels, alginates, polyurethane foams, hydrocolloids). All patients had functional status of ECOG 0–1 and 5. All patients had platelet counts greater than 150,000.


  • SITE: Single site    
  • SETTING TYPE: Outpatient  
  • LOCATION: Naples Tumour Institute Transfusional Medicine OU (presumed to mean outpatient unit)

Phase of Care and Clinical Applications:

  • PHASE OF CARE: Transition phase after active treatment
  • APPLICATIONS: Elder care

Study Design:

  • Repeated measures: Digital imaging during weekly change and application of platelet gel

Measurement Instruments/Methods:

  • Digital imaging before, during, and after the treatments
  • Authors note that the size of lesion, evolution over time, healing response (complete or partial), and healing time (days) were accounted for.


Seven out of the 10 treated patients showed a complete rate of healing varying from 21–49 days and after a range of three to seven applications of the platelet gel. Two patients' treatments with the gel were held after they had disease progression and metastases. One patient's treatment was discontinued after six applications because of an "incomplete response." Upon follow-up, no patients had recurrence or complications (unclear if this means disease/cancer recurrence or skin reaction recurrence) as a result of the platelet gel, and at five years post-treatment, six of the seven patients who had demonstrated a complete response remained disease-free (unclear if this means cancer-free or radiation dermatitis-free).


In this limited, disease-specific, small population sample, autologous platelet gel application seemed clinically useful and successful at treating third and fourth degree skin reactions. Patients with limb sarcoma who have surgery and then radiation therapy and develop moderate to severe skin reactions or ulcerations may benefit from weekly applications of autologous platelet gel to the affected areas.


  • Small sample (<30): N = 10
  • Risk of bias (no control group)
  • Risk of bias (no random assignment)
  • Risk of bias (sample characteristics): This study was limited to patients with limb sarcoma only who had surgery and then radiation therapy and developed moderate to severe skin reactions prior to receiving this treatment.
  • Key sample group differences that could influence results: Patient age and comorbid conditions could affect skin healing (patient age ranged from 26—81 years).
  • Measurement validity/reliability questionable: Digital imaging process and who was reading results is not described. Authors cite "the state of the wounds was evaluated by a unique medical of Transfusional Medicine OU" without letting the reader know what qualifications or licensure or experience the unique person(s) had to make the measurement valid or reliable.
  • Findings not generalizable: Due to the limited population (post-surgical, post-radiotherapy patients with limb sarcoma only), it does not appear that the findings could be generalized to any other patient population, such as breast cancer, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, or skin cancer. It is not clear whether this treatment is as effective as or superior to traditionally used measures in the United States. 
  • Intervention expensive, impractical, or training needs: Unknown whether labs in the United States do this type of harvesting or processing for autologous platelet gel application. Unknown whether patient's insurance would cover this treatment, and, if so, how much out-of-pocket cost would be transferred to the patient.

Nursing Implications:

The science of this treatment seems sound, based on the role of platelets in tissue repair and growth factors released by activated platelets. A larger patient sample size, including patients with different types of cancer, might address the effectiveness of autologous platelet gel application in radiation dermatitis post-radiation therapy.