Genicular Artery Embolization

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Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee is known to affect a significant portion of the population and is the most common joint to be affected by OA. As the population ages, the prevalence is expected to increase over the next several decades.

If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), you may have been told that anti-inflammatories and joint injections are your only treatment options, short of joint replacement surgery.

However, did you know that genicular artery embolization (GAE), a non-surgical, outpatient treatment, is being used to successfully relieve the pain caused by DJD?

What is Genicular Artery Embolization?

When you have pain and inflammation in your knee, your body tries to create new pathways to get blood flow to feed that area. GAE works by blocking these abnormal blood vessels, causing inflammation to subside. 

Genicular artery embolization, or GAE, is a minimally invasive procedure that is done in an outpatient setting. Medication is given through an IV in your arm to help you relax or put you in a twilight sedation throughout the procedure. An angiogram will be performed, and it is when an Interventional CardioVascular Specialist, Interventional Radiologist or Vascular Surgeon puts a small tube called a catheter into your artery.

A contrast is injected into your artery to visualize the blood flow with the use of x-ray at the same time. Once the catheter is positioned, tiny microsphere particles are slowly released to slow the blood supply to the abnormal vessels. By blocking these tiny vessels, there is a reduction in the blood flow to these vessels that are feeding the pain and inflammation. Over the next week to month, your pain and inflammation subside. 

Recovery Time

Recovery from an angioplasty is only a few short hours at Vascular Institute. You will be monitored closely and then able to go home. It will be recommended to rest the remainder of the first day. You will have some lifting and activity restrictions for up to 5 days.

During this recovery period, you may experience mild soreness, bruising and/or discoloration of the skin where the artery was punctured and the catheter was inserted. You will be sent home with discharge instructions after the procedure on specific instructions to follow. 

Who is a candidate for GAE?

GAE is a non-surgical treatment alternative for patients with knee pain due to osteoarthritis who have failed conservative therapy, such as anti-inflammatory medications or knee injections, and who do not wish to undergo or are ineligible for knee replacement surgery.

The following conditions make for a good candidate for GAE:

  • Age: 40-80 years
  • Moderate to severe knee pain
  • Osteoarthritis based on x-ray
  • Local knee tenderness
  • Pain at rest or pain that wakes you up at night
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications
  • Previously had joint injections 

Why Choose Vascular Institute

  • GAE is a minimally invasive alternative to treat pain symptoms and delay the need for a total knee arthroplasty.
  • Our providers that perform the procedure are experienced and specialized in GAE procedures. No other specialists can diagnose and treat for Genicular Artery Embolization.
  • We are able to get patients in quickly for a consult. In many cases candidates for this procedure receive treatment in our surgical suites located in Phoenix within 2 weeks.