Genicular Artery Embolization

Knee pain is one of those conditions that seems simple but can negatively impact your quality of life. Knee pain is a common symptom of a condition known as osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease where the tissues within a joint suffer wear and tear leading to consistent pain that can affect their entire well-being. In many cases, it can be managed with medications and physical therapy. However, in some patients, conservative management is not enough to control the pain and they require further treatment. If your knee pain is interfering with your daily life, Genicular Artery Embolization may be the solution.

What Is Genicular Artery Embolization?

Genicular Artery Embolization (GAE), also known as knee embolization, is a minimally invasive procedure that targets the genicular (knee joint) arteries. Genicular arteries are responsible for supplying blood to the synovium, which is the lining of the knee joint. The synovium becomes inflamed as a result of osteoarthritis. Increased blood flow to inflamed tissue, can cause pain and impair joint movement. GAE is used as a means to block the flow of blood to the synovium, which can reduce inflammation and provide pain relief.

How Is Genicular Artery Embolization Performed?

GAE procedures are typically performed by an interventional radiologist (IR); a medical professional who uses X-rays and other imaging tests to diagnose and treat problems without the need for surgery. GAE procedures are performed by inserting a catheter into the groin. The catheter is then guided through the arteries until it reaches the genicular vessels. Once the catheter is secure, embolic material are then injected into the genicular arteries and block the blood flow to the inflamed areas of your synovium. GAE can take about one to two hours to complete.

Who Are Ideal Candidates For Genicular Artery Embolization?

Anyone who has osteoarthritis and has not seen any kind of relief from other treatments. These treatments can include taking medication, undergoing physical therapy, and steroid injections. GAE is a fantastic alternative for those who are hesitant or not eligible for knee replacement surgery.

Who Are Not Good Candidates For GAE?

There are certain factors that can disqualify patients from being a suitable candidate for GAE.

These factors include the following:

  • You have severe osteoarthritis causing joint deformity
  • You have an active infection
  • Having a malignancy
  • You are an eligible candidate for knee replacement surgery

If you meet any of the above criteria, we can offer you safer alternatives to better manage your osteoarthritis pain.

What Are The Benefits Of GAE?

GAE offers patients certain benefits that other treatments may not provide. One of the most notable benefits is that GAE is a minimally invasive procedure. Compared to knee replacement surgery, there is no surgical incision, and you only need to stay in the office for a few hours. The procedure can be repeated in the future if the arthritis inflammation recurs.

Other benefits can include potential pain relief and improved function. According to the National Institute of Health, GAE has a success rate of 99.7 percent with low risk of minor complications.

Does GAE Come With Risks?

Yes, similar to other surgical procedures, there are risks involved with GAE. The risk of standard surgical risks include bleeding, swelling, bruising, and potential infections is significantly lower when compared to surgical treatment. A more relevant risk, albeit uncommon, is non-targeted embolization, when the embolic material migrates to other vessels around the knee joint causing skin reaction and even small ulcers. This is usually managed conservatively and resolves on its own without invasive intervention.

Furthermore, there are a few factors you need to consider before undergoing GAE. First, GAE is not a cure for osteoarthritis; it is meant to control pain and discomfort which is the most common problem associated with osteoarthritis. Even after successful treatment, new areas of inflammation can affect the treated joint in the future, therefore the pain can recur, which may require further treatments. Another consideration is that GAE is still a relatively new and evolving treatment for osteoarthritis. There is still ongoing research about the efficacy and safety regarding the procedure.

Is GAE Right For Me?

Whether or not GAE is a good treatment option depends on the patient. Before anyone can receive GAE, they must first be considered suitable for treatment. One of our qualified professionals will carefully assess the current state of your condition and the symptoms you are experiencing. They will also thoroughly evaluate your medical history to ensure the risk of complications is low.

Schedule an Appointment

If you are suffering from osteoarthritis in your knee and conventional treatments are not working, GAE may be the solution you are looking for. Contact us at 703-763-5224 to schedule an appointment at the Vascular Institute of Virginia today.

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