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Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

Genicular Artery Embolization (GAE)

The Next Step in Knee Pain Relief

Osteoarthritis clinic
Inside of a Modern Vascular clinic.

What is Genicular Artery Embolization?

Genicular artery embolization is a safe, effective and minimally-invasive procedure to reduce knee pain for patients with osteoarthritis.

The procedure is performed in an outpatient setting by an interventional radiologist, a physician specially trained in minimally invasive procedures utilizing image guidance to diagnose and treat disease.

Geniculur comes from the latin term geniculum, which means "knee". There are six genicular arteries that are all located in the leg near the knee. An embolism is when a blood vessel gets obstructed by an irregular particle. Embolization involves the purposeful occlusion of a blood vessel.

While they do not cure osteoarthritis, genicular artery embolization procedures help patients improve their quality of life, reduce the use of opioids and other pain-killers, and avoid pain management injections or physical therapy.

Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

Most people are familiar with arthritis, but don't have a complete understanding of the condition. Arthritis is a way of describing many conditions involving inflammation that causes joint pain.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is caused by the cartilage of the joint being worn down over time or trauma. It is most common in the knees, hips, hands, and spine. It cannot be reversed. However, there are some treatments available to help improve joint function or reduce pain.

Over 32 million adults in the US have osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease. The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases with overuse of the joint, injury to the joint, age, and obesity. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis and genetics can indicate increased risk for osteoarthritis.

GAE procedure process

How Does It Work?

The procedure only uses moderate sedation that allows patients to go home the same day. Under image-guidance the physician places a thin, hollow tube called a catheter into the patient's artery in their upper thigh.

Using X-rays, the catheter is guided down to the arteries that supply blood to the tissue that lines the knee. Once it is in position, the physician injects small micro sphere particles that slow the blood supply to the capillaries in the knee joint tissue.

As a result of the procedure, patients can expect to experience a reduction in pain and other functional symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Woman with knee pain from osteoarthritis

Is GAE Right For You?

Do any of the following apply to you? If yes, reach out to us to see if GAE is an option to get you fast, long-lasting pain relief without drugs or surgery.

  • Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee
  • Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD)
  • Pain in one or both knees
  • Pain in your knees when walking up stairs
  • Stiffness in your knees when you wake up
  • Persistent usage-related knee pain
  • Failed or diminishing relief from conservative treatment – i.e. Physical therapy, joint injections

Frequently Askes Questions

Click on the down arrow button to see the answer.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) occurs when the cartilage between the bones breaks down, causing joint pain. It is commonly caused by wear and tear and can cause joints to be swollen and difficult to move. Osteoarthritis is also called degenerative joint disease (DJD). A person is at greater risk of OA if they have injured a joint or regularly engage in repeated stressful motions on a joint. Obesity and age are also common risk factors.

What is the difference between arthritis and osteoarthritis?

The main difference between arthritis and osteoarthritis is that osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis. Arthritis is defined as swelling of the joints that causes pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis that is caused by wear and tear. There are over 100 different forms of arthritis. Another common form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, which is a chronic inflammatory disorder where the immune system attacks the body’s tissue, joints, and sometimes even organs.

What is the main cause of osteoarthritis?

The main cause of OA is stress on the joints over time. The cartilage wears away with regular stress on the joints, causing pain. Other causes include connective tissue disease, abnormal development of joints or limbs, previous injuries to the joints, or inherited factors. Inflammatory mediators could also play a role in the process of osteoarthritis.

What are the four stages of osteoarthritis?

The stages of osteoarthritis range from normal to severe. There are four different stages of OA, those are:

  1. Stage 1 (Minor) is when the joint shows minor wear and bone spur growth. At this stage, it is not common for patients to experience pain or discomfort.
  2. Stage 2 (Mild) is when the joint shows increase bone spur growth. At this stage, patients begin to develop joint pain symptoms.
  3. Stage 3 (Moderate) is when the joint shows obvious cartilage erosion. At this stage, there is inflammation that causes pain during use and stiffness after long periods of limited use.
  4. Stage 4 (Severe) is when the space of the joint between the bones is reduced, causing the cartilage to wear. This causes stiffness in the joint. There is a chronic inflammatory response to the breakdown of cartilage, causing greater pain during use.

Stage 0 (Normal) is when the knee doesn’t show any signs of OA. There aren’t any signs of damage to the joint and a person does not experience any pain or stiffness.

These are only a few of the common questions that we receive about GAE. Visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to read the full list of questions and responses.

View All FAQs

Happy couple after husband received GAE procedure

Who Would Benefit From GAE?

GAE may work best for patients suffering from moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis. However, GAE may not be right for you if you are (or have been) a smoker, have an infection in your knee, or your arthritis is too advanced and knee replacement surgery is the recommended next step.