Genicular Artery Embolization
Genicular Artery Embolization
If you were diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis (OA), your doctor has likely recommended surgery as the only “permanent” solution. But if you are not ready or are unfit for surgery, genicular artery embolization can help you get relief from OA pain. At Vascular & Interventional Partners in Scottsdale AZ, we regularly treat patients with disabling knee OA with this minimally invasive, outpatient procedure.
What Is Genicular Artery Embolization?
Genicular Artery Embolization (GEA) is a minimally invasive interventional radiology treatment for painful osteoarthritis of the knee. Also known as degenerative arthritis of the knee, knee OA happens when ongoing wear and tear causes loss of normal cartilage and debilitating pain.
Chronic inflammation is also a contributing factor to knee OA and is made worse by abnormal blood vessels often seen in patients with knee OA. For these reasons, interventional radiologists have developed a treatment that blocks some of these blood vessels, called an “embolization.” Decreasing blood flow to the inflamed knee can help reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain.
The procedure is known as Genicular Artery Embolization (GAE), which involves blocking the tiny arteries supplying the knee joint. The genicular arteries are small arteries that meet in the knee region and supply the inflamed joint capsule.
During a GAE, the interventional radiologist inserts a thin catheter into one of the main arteries in your thigh. Using X-ray imaging, they guide the catheter toward the genicular arteries and release tiny particles called microspheres to block blood flow. This causes the artery to shut down, lowering blood flow to parts of the knee. While reducing blood flow may seem counterintuitive, it helps reduce the amount of inflammation affecting the knees.
Benefits of Genicular Artery Embolization
The main benefit of GAE is pain reduction. Knee OA is a progressive disease that becomes increasingly painful over time and often requires surgery. However, not all patients are ready to undergo surgery, and some may not be good candidates for invasive procedures. GAE is an alternative option for these patients and provides additional benefits:
- Minimally invasive — As a non-surgical alternative, GAE does not involve large incisions, removal of bone, or general anesthesia.
- Outpatient procedure — No need for overnight hospital stays, patients are discharged home just hours after their procedure.
- Quick treatment, short recoverY — A typical GAE takes 45 to 90 minutes to complete, and most patients recover within a couple of days after treatment.
- Long-lasting pain relief — Studies show that GAE leads to significant pain reduction for several months, and in some patients can provide relief for one year or more.
- Less risky with few side effects — As a minimally invasive, non-surgical treatment, GAE is less risky compared to open surgery and does not have many side effects compared to medication.
Why Choose Vascular & Interventional Partners?
At Vascular & Interventional Partners in Scottsdale, AZ, we understand that not everyone is ready or able to undergo knee surgery. And we also understand that medication, injections, and physical therapy help only to a certain extent. That is why we have decided to offer this minimally invasive but highly effective alternative procedure at our private practice.
At our practice, you will be treated by the most respected interventional radiology division in Arizona. Our team includes five leading interventional radiologists, physician assistants, nurses, and technicians. Our doctors are experienced in treating some of the most complex conditions using cutting-edge techniques. All our doctors are board-certified by the American Board of Radiology, and many are members of the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR), the Outpatient Endovascular and Interventional Society (OEIS), and other professional organizations.
At our private practice, you will receive treatment within a short time frame after your initial consultation. We make sure to take a personalized approach to all our patients and provide ample opportunity for you to speak directly with your provider. To ensure your stay with us is as comfortable as possible, we also offer curbside drop-offs and pick-ups as well as concierge service.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is genicular artery embolization safe?
So far, research has shown GAE to be safe. Compared to open surgery, there is a smaller risk of bleeding, infections, and complications from anesthesia with this procedure. When complications do occur, they are usually minor and include discomfort at the treatment size and bruising.
How effective is genicular artery embolization?
Studies have found GAE to be highly effective, providing significant and long-lasting pain relief in approximately 70 percent of the treated patients. Although, some studies show a success rate of almost 100 percent. Most of the treated patients also have no or only minor side effects from treatment.
Is genicular artery embolization covered by insurance?
GAE is a relatively new treatment, and insurance companies handle this differently. Your team at ViP will contact your insurance provider prior to the procedure, and be open about whether or not your insurance approves the procedure. Some patients receive this treatment by taking part in a clinical study, and others have to pay for the procedure out of pocket.
How long does genicular artery embolization last?
Results from this treatment are known to last for 6 to 12 months. However, some studies have found that patients have experienced pain relief for four years following initial treatment.
What to expect during genicular artery embolization?
During this procedure, you will lie on a padded table and be given local anesthesia and IV sedation. The interventional radiologist will guide a thin catheter from your femoral artery toward the knee joint using X-ray imaging. Once the catheter is in place, they will inject tiny particles into the problem arteries to seal them off. Usually, one to three arteries are treated during one session. Your provider will place a dressing over the vessel access site. Commonly, patients experience skin discoloration around the knee in the days following embolization. If you experience any open sores developing at the skin, you should alert your physician.
What is the recovery like?
Immediately after your procedure, you will spend about four hours in the recovery room. Most patients go home on the day of their procedure and are back to their usual routine within two to three days. You may feel discomfort around the knee or at the access site and will need to keep your dressing clean.