Benefits of GAE for Knee Pain
Genicular Artery Embolization (GAE) is a minimally-invasive procedure to reduce knee pain for patients with osteoarthritis (OA). GAE is performed through a small pinhole in the groin. Tiny particles are then injected to block the arteries around the lining of the knee. By blocking these arteries, there is a reduction in the amount of inflammation and associated knee pain.
1. Long Lasting Pain Relief
First, GAE is effective and durable in reducing pain symptoms from moderate or severe knee OA. GAE also has an excellent safety profile. The amount of pain relief and how long it lasts depends on each patient, but one study was performed in Asia that showed success rates exceeding 80%. In addition, the results remained durable up to 4 years after the procedure.
Second, traditional approaches to knee pain have involved changes in activity, injections and eventually knee replacement. Knee replacement is effective for severe osteoarthritis. It involves cutting away bone from your thighbone, shinbone and kneecap and replacing it with an artificial joint (prosthesis) made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics and polymers. Surgery is usually followed by restricted activity and recovery for 3 to 6 weeks. Since GAE is a non-surgical minimally invasive procedure, there is no recovery period. Furthermore, complications associated with traditional surgery (e.g., infected knee replacement requiring repeat surgery) are also avoided.
Third, the procedure generally takes between 45 and 90 minutes, and the patient is able to go home the same day. The risk of the procedure is small, mostly the accidental injection of particles into arteries not supplying the lining of the knee. At NVP, we have a state-of-the-art facility with highly specialized vascular physicians trained to successfully perform the procedure.
4. Delay or Eliminate Need for Surgery
Fourth, while research is ongoing, GAE holds promise for patients with debilitating knee pain who are not ready or willing to undergo knee replacement surgery. While it does not treat the underlying disease, evidence so far shows that this may be an effective way to manage the symptoms. As research accumulates, more information will be available regarding those patients who may be able to completely avoid the need for surgery.
5. No incision, No Scar
Fifth, GAE is performed through a small pinhole puncture in the groin. As a result, no incision is necessary to perform the non-surgical procedure and no scar is left behind. Traditional knee replacement surgeries leave a scar which can be as long as 10 inches.
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Padia SA, Genshaft S, Blumstein G, Plotnik A, Kim GHJ, Gilbert SJ, Lauko K, Stavrakis AI. Genicular Artery Embolization for the Treatment of Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis. JB JS Open Access. 2021 Oct 21;6(4):e21.00085. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.OA.21.00085. PMID: 34703964; PMCID: PMC8542160.