Autologous Blood (ABI) uses the growth factors and natural healing cells in your own blood to help repair tendon damage and treat the pain caused by injuries and chronic wear.
ABI is most commonly used for tendon attachments at the elbow (tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow), hamstring origin, patella (jumper’s knee), Achilles tendon or the plantar fascia (heel spur). To be successful it is essential that any image-guided injection forms part of a complete rehabilitation program guided by your surgeon, sports doctor, GP or physiotherapist.
Prior to treatment, an accurate diagnosis is essential which will usually require a diagnostic ultrasound or MRI scan. The ultrasound and injection can usually be done on the same day if your referrer has already discussed an injection with you.
The radiologist, a specialist doctor, will then plan the injection. About 2mL of blood is taken from a vein just like any other blood test. The skin is then cleaned with antiseptic and a fine needle is positioned into the abnormal area using ultrasound guidance to ensure precise placement. Local anaesthetic may also be used.
Post Procedure Care
Some swelling or discomfort is common in the first few days because this injections works by activating “good” inflammation to promote the healing process. You may benefit from an icepack or paracetamol but avoid anti-inflammatory medication, such as Nurofen, Voltaren, Mobic and Celebrex as it may reduce the effectiveness.
A rehabilitation programme will need to be guided by your referring clinician but would typically involve:
- Week 1: No deliberate exercise.
- Weeks 2-4: A 3 week graduated program of stretching and eccentric exercises.
- End of week 4: Reassess.
Risks / Side Effects
Because we are re-injecting your own blood there is no risk of allergic reaction and no adverse effect on the tendon structure. Any injection carries a small risk of introducing infection, about 1 in 30,000, and we take precautions to minimise this. If you experience increasing swelling or redness, please call your doctor.
Before your Scan
Anti-inflammatory medication such as Nurofen, Voltaren, Mobic and Celebrex should be stopped 10 days before and 10 days after as it may reduce the effectiveness of the procedure.
Pre exam (at booking) please let us know if you are taking blood thinners. Ideally these should also be stopped, however you must check with your doctor first.
It is a good idea to wear clothing that allows easy access to the area that is being imaged.