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Is there an alternative knee replacement?

Posted on October 22, 2023
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Recently, our Georgia Knee Institute's interventional radiologists added an alternative knee replacement procedure known as Genicular Artery Embolization, or GAE. This minimally invasive procedure relieves knee inflammation and pain without surgery. It works by decreasing blood flow to the parts of your knee that osteoarthritis has damaged. But what causes osteoarthritis knee damage? And who should seek out an alternative knee replacement treatment for pain relief? Keep reading to find out!

Knee Damage and Osteoarthritis

Your knee joints should work like hinges so that you can easily bend and move. However, years of activity can wear down your knee joints and the cartilage beneath that covers up your bones. If that happens, you may develop osteoarthritis, along with pain, stiffness and limits on joint mobility.

Age is a risk factor for osteoarthritis of the knees, since the National Institutes of Health reports that 10% of men and 13% of women over 60 suffer from osteoarthritis in the knee. Most will seek pain relief, and many will hope to find it without surgery. For that reason, as an alternative knee replacement, GAE is a very popular osteoarthritis treatment option.

What to Expect with GAE as an Alternative Knee Replacement

Though it's a fairly new osteoarthritis treatment, GAE is effective because it takes a fresh approach to pain relief. In fact, it targets inflammation, not cartilage degradation, thereby slowing bone degradation due to bone-on-bone contact. In this way, you can slow disease progression while relieving pain. And you can do both without surgery!

Does GAE offer lasting relief? According to the UCLA Medical Center study, 70% of patients reported they less pain, stiffness and difficulty walking one year after GAE. Plus, because they'd tried other treatment options--and failed to find relief--they were thrilled to find an effective alternative knee replacement.

What to Expect from the Procedure

How does GAE work? During this outpatient procedure, our experts make a small incision in the crease of your leg, allowing us to access your femoral artery with a catheter. Next, we use imaging to guide the catheter to three of the seven genicular arteries that feed your knee joint's blood supply.

During the procedure, you'll be awake, allowing us to accurately target the source of your knee pain. Once that's identified, we can cut off blood flow to the arteries responsible for your pain and inflammation by inserting beads through the catheter. In total, the procedure lasts approximately two hours. After, we'll keep you for observation until we're sure you're doing well. Then, while you'll need to modify your activity levels for a few days after GAE, you can still go home that day, avoiding an overnight stay in the hospital.

Who is a Candidate for Alternative Knee Replacement?

Patients who are good candidates for genicular artery embolization have experienced at least six months of chronic knee pain. They should also try at least one other non-surgical treatment option before seeking GAE, and should not be smokers. Ready to find relief from knee pain without surgery? Contact our Georgia Knee Institute by clicking here to request an appointment.

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