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What is Genicular Artery Embolization?

Posted on July 24, 2023

What is genicular artery embolization and how can it help your knee pain or other osteoarthritis pain? Genicular artery embolization (GAE) is a  minimally invasive treatment that can relieve osteoarthritis-related knee pain without surgery. In some cases, it may even help you delay or avoid a knee replacement. While it's a relatively new procedure in the U.S. and Europe, results from Japan indicate that it can completely change the way we treat some joint pain. Plus, with relatively high success rates, this procedure is quickly gaining popularity around the globe!

What Causes Osteoarthritis Knee Pain?

Approximately 13% of women and 10% of men over the age of 60 suffer from osteoarthritis. The disease attacks the lining of your joints, including your knee joints. The resulting pain and inflammation can be debilitating, leaving people seeking relief to maintain mobility.

For some, simple interventions such as over-the-counter anti-inflammatories can help manage discomfort. Others need a full knee replacement in order to stop the pain. But, for those who need a bit more relief and wish to steer clear of surgery, GAE is a wonderful middle ground.

Genicular Artery Embolization: What's Involved a woman's knees

This minimally-invasive osteoarthritis treatment is a great option for people who don't get enough relief from conservative treatments. It's also perfect for those who can't or won't undergo surgery. Here's how it works.

When you choose GAE, we inject tiny microscopic plastic beads (about the size of a grain of sand) into your leg arteries that supply the knee joint, via a small catheter. That procedure shuts down blood flow to your hypervascular joint lining (the synovium.) This helps relieve your knee pain because osteoarthritis can cause inflammation and thickening of the synovium. In turn, that inflammation worsens your pain. As a result, when you cut off blood flow to the synovium, inflammation and pain improve immediately. You may even be able to prevent cartilage breakdown through this procedure.

Why Choose GAE?

When you choose genicular artery embolization for osteoarthritis, you can expect to experience prolonged relief from joint pain relief. You should be able to walk with greater ease, especially on tricky stops such as stairs. Also, embolizing the synovium can reduce inflammation and slow arthritis progression. And, perhaps most importantly, GAE is an outpatient procedure. Plus, it's minimally invasive, so your recovery period is shorter and you won't have to stay overnight at the hospital. In fact, most people can resume their normal activities (with minimal restrictions) the day after their procedure.

Alternative to Knee Replacement Surgery

Perhaps the biggest benefit of GAE is that it helps you avoid surgery, so you won't need to worry about incisions, stitches, or staples. You can also avoid general anesthesia, reducing the risk of complications following your procedure.

Also, you can undergo genicular artery embolization more than once. So, if your knee pain relief wears off (which may happen after a period of six months to a year) you can choose to undergo another embolization, reducing your pain and once again slowing osteoarthritis progression.

Want to learn more about GAE, and see if this procedure can help you stay active and pain-free, even with arthritis? Schedule a consultationSchedule a consultationSchedule a consultation with our Houston or Dallas area interventional radiologists. Together, we'll determine if this is your best osteoarthritis treatment option.

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