Genicular artery embolization, or GAE is a relatively new adaptation of a non-surgical procedure, embolization, performed for various conditions throughout the body for various conditions for decades. The application of embolization procedure to help knee arthritis is relatively new being performed for several years. Studies have shown that GAE can significantly reduce the symptoms caused by osteoarthritis of the knee for up to two years in approximately 70% of patients. The studies are ongoing and new data will continue to emerge. GAE can help delay the immediate necessity of knee replacement surgery.
It accomplishes this by partially blocking the blood supply to the knee joint. In the body’s attempt to repair the damage to cartilage and bone, the body increases blood flow to the knee joint, a process called neovascularization. This extra blood flow is partly responsible the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. By limiting the blood supply to a more normal degree, GAE can help pain and delay the immediate necessity of knee replacement surgery. Unlike some other embolization procedures, the endpoint for embolization is different. Blood flow is not completely eliminated but, instead is “pruned” to a more normal degree of blood vessels.
The procedure is performed by our Vascular Interventional Radiologist. It begins with the IR making a small nick on the patient’s upper thigh, and inserting a thin catheter into the patient’s artery. This catheter is then guided to the arteries that supply blood to the the knee joint termed the genicular arteries. There are three genicular arteries on each side of the knee which often interconnect.
From here, small microspheres are injected through the catheter into these arteries, reducing the flow of blood to the lining of the knees. As this blood supply is pruned, neovascularity will be reduced, and the procedure is complete. Patients usually begin to feel relief within 2 weeks.
GAE is best suited for patients between the ages of 40 and 80 who suffer from moderate to severe symptomatic knee pain. The procedure is most effective in those who are confirmed to have osteoarthritis. Patients who have not responded to conservative treatments like NSAIDS or knee injections would also benefit from GAE.
GAE is best suited for those who are not ready for knee replacement surgery. Those who don’t wish to go through the extended recovery and rehabilitation period associated with major surgery can utilize GAE to help alleviate the symptoms of their osteoarthritis.
While GAE does not directly repair the disintegration of cartilage, it has been shown to drastically reduce the pain and disability symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. Patients show a marked decrease in pain, and an increase in mobility.
GAE is also minimally-invasive, meaning it does not require a large incision and associated long-term scarring. It also does not require the use of general anesthesia; patients are comfortably sedated, but remain conscious. GAE is a same day procedure, and patients will be allowed to leave after treatment and recover in the comfort of their own home.
The last but most important step in choosing to have a GAE treatment is selecting the right facility to complete the procedure. It’s important to choose a staff that prioritizes proper patient care, and utilizes the best in state-of-the-art medical technology.
The main risk with any blood vessel procedure is bleeding from the site of access. To decrease this risk, the interventional radiologist will often use a closure device in conjunction with firm pressure on the groin access site at the conclusion of the procedure. Because the geniculate arteries also supply the skin around the knee, nontarget embolization of the skin is relatively common causing temporary discoloration called mottling sometimes with associated itching that self resolves in a week or two. The skin is highly vascular and blood reroutes quickly to return normal appearance. During the procedure, a cold pack is placed on the knee to limit microspheres going to the skin. Increased knee pain for a day or two is also common but also resolves within a week.
If you want focused professionals who achieve excellent results, you’ll want your procedure conducted by Peripheral Vascular Partners.
At Peripheral Vascular Partners, we understand the pain and discomfort of osteoarthritis. We provide proven alternatives to surgery, and take the time to ensure each of the patients receives top-quality care. Our trained specialists are experts at performing GAE procedures, and do so with a high rate of efficacy.
A knee replacement is not your only option. If you aren’t ready for surgery, GAE can offer you significant symptom relief from osteoarthritis of the knee, without the risk and discomfort of invasive procedures. Let us walk you through the specific steps of this procedure, and answer any question you have about your treatment: Simply schedule a consultation today!