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What's Better? Genicular Artery Embolization vs Knee Surgery

Posted on May 30, 2024

If you’re living with knee osteoarthritis pain and exploring treatment options, you'll probably compare genicular artery embolization vs knee surgery. But what are these procedures? And how can you tell which is your best treatment option? Keep reading for all the details.

close up of surgical tools

Exploring Knee Surgery

During knee replacement surgery, damaged bone and cartilage is removed from the kneecap and some surrounding areas. Next, it's replaced with a plastic or metal artificial knee joint, built to replicate a natural knee's movements.

Now, this is an invasive procedure that requires general or regional anesthesia. But the surgery is not lengthy, typically lasting between one and two hours. After the procedure, doctors will close your incision site with sutures or staples before dressing the wound. As such, you’ll have to care for your wound during the recovery period, while following all other post-operative instructions from your doctor.

What is Genicular Artery Embolization

What's different about genicular artery embolization vs knee surgery? Unlike surgical procedures, genicular artery embolization (GAE) is minimally invasive. And, instead of replacing your knee, it reduces knee osteoarthritis pain and inflammation by limiting blood flow to the knee's lining. This knee procedure also lasts between one and two hours, but it is an outpatient procedure, so you can be mildly sedated instead of undergoing general anesthesia. Also, instead of a large incision, our interventional radiologists insert a catheter through a small opening into the artery. Then, with the help of X-ray guidance, it's positioned to access your knee lining. Once in place, we inject the catheter with tiny particles that block blood flow to the area, providing an extended period of knee pain relief following the procedure.

Genicular Artery Embolization Vs. Knee Replacement Recovery

After knee replacement surgery, most patients spend between one and three nights in the hospital. The recovery period is also extensive, lasting up to a full year, though most people resume normal activities at the six week post-operative mark. Also, many patients need physical therapy to fully recover, and face significant pain following their procedure.  

In contrast, the genicular artery embolization recovery period is much shorter. You will likely go home on the same day as your procedure, and can get back to light activities about one week later. It's normal to experience some discomfort in the first days after GAE, but that will be temporary, and knee pain relief should become apparent within two weeks of the procedure.

Finding the Best Osteoarthritis Knee Pain Relief

Choosing betweem genicular artery embolization vs knee surgery? Consider this: knee replacement surgery provides lasting relief. But it requires a stay in the hospital and an extended rehabilitation period, as well as higher risks for complications. Also, you must be cleared for surgery in order to choose this treatment option.

Now, if you choose GAE at the Georgia Knee Institute, you'll get months or even years of knee pain relief, along with improved mobility. And that will come without hospital stays or general anesthesia, or risks for serious complications. Plus, you undergo multiple GAE procedures, allowing you to delay or avoid surgery. Want to learn more about GAE in Georgia? Click here to request a consultation

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