Knee Replacement Alternative: Genicular Artery Embolization

Restoring mobility without invasive surgery.

For many years, a total knee replacement was the only practical and effective treatment option for severe cases of knee osteoarthritis.

A total knee replacement is a major operation requiring hospitalization and extensive, prolonged physical therapy and rehabilitation.

The good news is that you don’t need a knee replacement to relieve symptoms and increase mobility. That’s where knee replacement alternatives such as genicular artery embolization (GAE) come into the picture.

If you’ve been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis, are living with severe knee pain, or are interested in learning more about effective knee replacement alternatives, we can help.

Understanding Knee Replacement Alternatives

Knee replacement surgery is an extensive and invasive procedure that removes and replaces damaged bone and cartilage from your thighbone, shinbone, and kneecap and replaces it with an artificial joint (prosthesis) typically made of metal, high-grade plastics, and polymers.

Even in the most successful knee replacement outcomes, many patients suffer from continued knee pain, decreased mobility, and loss of function after a fully-healed prosthesis.

It is also important to know that receiving knee replacement too early in life can require repeat surgeries, as joint replacements only last about ten years.

What Causes You to Need a Knee Replacement?

The most common reason for may need knee replacement surgery is to relieve severe pain associated with an osteoarthritis diagnosis.

People who need knee replacement surgery usually have difficulty with day-to-day mobility, such as walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of chairs.

Although it is considered the most complete way to relieve knee osteoarthritis pain and improve your quality of life, surgery comes with adverse risks, including:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots in the leg or lungs
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Temporary or permanent nerve damage

Before opting for a total knee replacement on one or both knees due to osteoarthritis, you should consider some viable knee replacement alternatives.

Genicular Artery Embolization: The Gold Standard in Knee Replacement Alternatives

Until recently, total joint replacement was the only definitive therapy for severe knee osteoarthritis.

Now, we offer minimally-invasive therapy known as genicular artery embolization for patients who are not ready for a total knee joint replacement.

This treatment option is often known as the middle ground between medical therapy used for mild arthritis and extensive surgery, like a total knee replacement, used for severe end-stage osteoarthritis.

What is Genicular Artery Embolization?

Geniculate artery embolization involves shutting down the blood flow to the hypervascular joint lining, known as the synovium.

The synovium is a vascular lining of the joint capsule. When you have knee osteoarthritis, it becomes markedly thickened and inflamed (hypervascularity). This leads to inflammation and increased pain.

How is Genicular Artery Embolization Performed?

Our experienced team of physicians inserts a small catheter into one of your leg arteries during this minimally invasive procedure.

Then, we perform an angiogram, a simple diagnostic test that uses x-rays to take pictures of your blood vessels.

Next, we inject tiny particles into the catheter that then flow downstream to the inflamed areas of your knee joint lining. This injection decreases blood flow to the inflamed area providing long-term relief and improved joint health.

Genicular Artery Embolization Benefits

There are many benefits of opting into genicular artery embolization for patients suffering from moderate to severe osteoarthritis and its correlating symptoms.

Several high-quality studies have proven that most patients experience significant prolonged joint pain relief after embolization of the synovium.

Additionally, some research studies show that decreasing the blood flow reduces inflammation, which can slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

Shutting blood flow down to the inflamed lining decreases inflammation and pain with minimal risk to your health.

One of the most significant benefits outside of symptom relief is that GAE is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure that does not require a hospital stay or extensive healing time. You arrive in the morning and can go home a few hours after the procedure, resuming normal light activities the following day.

Other benefits of GAE include:

  • no surgical incisions, skin stitches, or staples
  • no general anesthesia, only mild sedation
  • decreased surgical and post-surgical complication risks

GAE can be performed multiple times without increasing your risk of complications, helping you delay knee joint replacement surgery in the long run. Many patients enjoy up to 6 months of long-term symptom relief from one embolization procedure.

Other Alternatives

Treatment options for osteoarthritis knee pain depend on the severity of your condition and symptoms.

For most, the best first step in treating osteoarthritis is patient education about the importance of exercise and weight management to reduce symptoms and slow the condition. Typically, patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis may also use local or oral pain medications.

Once knee osteoarthritis progresses to moderate or severe, medical therapy may include pain relievers and a combination of the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)
  • Intra-articular steroid injections
  • Duloxetine

It is important to note that knee replacement is often not the first choice in knee osteoarthritis care. Along with medication for symptom control, other common knee replacement alternatives include:

  • steroid injections
  • physical therapy
  • knee braces
  • walking aids, such as a cane or walker
  • hyaluronic acid injections
  • topical creams with capsaicin
  • over-the-counter supplements, including glucosamine and chondroitin or SAMe
  • acupuncture

The Best Treatment for Knee Arthritis and Care in Texas

You don’t need major surgery to decrease knee pain or increase mobility. Genicular artery embolization is the answer. Start your journey to a healthier and more mobile tomorrow with us.

Get the osteoarthritis knee pain relief you need sooner at Texas Endovascular.

Our expert team is here to help you feel better by relieving unrelenting knee pain.

Schedule an appointment at one of our Houston area clinics today to learn if genicular artery embolization is the best knee replacement alternative for you.

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