Genicular artery embolization is an exciting new alternative treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis
Genicular artery embolization, also known as GAE, is an exciting new surgical alternative therapy for painful osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.
Pain caused by osteoarthritis of the knee affects hundreds of thousands of individuals in the United States. It is one of the more common causes of disability. For many patients suffering from this condition, steroid injections into the knee joint and anti-inflammatory medications do not provide adequate relief. In the past, we thought arthritic pain was only due to the thinning of cartilage and bone spurs. Recently, we learned that part of the pain is due to the ongoing of inflammation within the knee. The inflammatory process relies on increased blood flow. Reducing that blood flow is how GAE works.
Genicular Artery Embolization Technique
GAE is performed by an interventional radiologist (IR), a subspecialized doctor, and can be done in a specially outfitted clinic suite as an outpatient. A patient will undergo an x-ray dye procedure of the leg to map out the arteries of the knee and find areas of increased blood flow related to the pain. Arteries supplying those areas of the knee joint will be injected with a solution of tiny particles measuring about one-quarter of a millimeter in size. This will slow the flow in these areas and reduce the blood supply that the inflammation relies on. So far, the studies show that sixty to seventy percent of the patients have their pain reduced by about half.
Advantages of GAE for Knee Osteoarthritis
GAE has many advantages when compared to knee injections or surgery. It is a same-day, in-office procedure that requires little downtime. It also gives the patient a chance to maintain their natural range and function of the knee, which is difficult to fully regain following total replacement with an artificial joint. There are typically only a few days of post-procedural pain related to the embolization, which is controlled with over-the-counter pain medicine. Relief typically occurs over the weeks to months following the embolization. The results are durable, with pain improvement that can last up to a few years.
At Summit IR, we have the experience performing GAE that allows us the ability to offer the highest-quality options for our Knee Osteoarthritis patients wishing to improve their quality of life. Contact us today for an appointment.