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Choosing Genicular Artery Embolization vs Knee Replacement for Osteoarthritis

Posted on May 30, 2024

If you’re suffering from osteoarthritis knee pain, you may be exploring treatment options, and choosing between genicular artery embolization vs knee surgery. But what’s involved in each of these procedures? And how can you choose the best option for your needs? Here’s what you need to know.

A close up of surgical tools

Knee Replacement for Osteoarthritis Pain

When you choose knee replacement surgery, your doctor will remove damaged bone and cartilage from your kneecap and some surrounding structures, replacing it with an implanted artificial joint. Constructed from plastic or metal, the replacement joint is designed to replicate the movements of your natural knee joint.

Due to the invasive nature of the procedure, you’ll need to go under general or regional anesthesia during the surgery, which typically lasts between one to two hours. Afterward, the incision site will be closed with staples or sutures, and your wound will be dressed carefully. During your recovery period, you’ll have to follow wound care instructions as well as all other post-operative directions from your doctor.

Genicular Artery Embolization

How does genicular artery embolization vs knee surgery compare in terms of what to expect during your procedure? Unlike surgery, genicular artery embolization (GAE) is a minimally invasive procedure designed to reduce knee osteoarthritis pain by decreasing the volume of blood flow that reaches the lining of your knee. Also lasting between one and two hours, GAE is an outpatient procedure performed with mild sedation rather than general anesthesia. During the procedure, our interventional radiologists insert a small catheter into your artery, guiding it to areas of inflammation with the help of X-ray imaging. Once in position, we inject tiny particles through that catheter; these block blood flow and reduce inflammation, providing osteoarthritis knee pain relief in the weeks and months following your procedure.

Genicular Artery Embolization Vs. Knee Replacement: What to Expect from the Recovery

If you undergo a knee replacement, you’ll likely need to stay in the hospital for up to three days afterward. And, your full recovery could last between 6 months and a year, though you’ll be able to return to your normal activities about six weeks after surgery. The initial healing period is likely to be painful, and many patients require physical therapy following their surgery.  

In contrast, a genicular artery embolization recovery is far shorter. Most patients go home on the same day as their procedure, resuming light activities as early as one week afterward. Some discomfort is normal in the first few days following GAE, however you could start to experience knee pain relief as soon as two weeks after the procedure, with results continuing to improve from there.

Choosing the Best Treatment for Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

If you’re considering genicular artery embolization vs knee surgery to relieve your arthritis pain, here are some things to consider. If you choose knee replacement surgery, you should experience lasting relief. But you will also need to stay in the hospital and go through a more intense period of rehabilitation—along with a higher potential for complications. Plus, you must be physically healthy enough to undergo an invasive surgical procedure.

However, if you choose GAE at the Texas Knee Institute, you can enjoy months or years of knee pain relief and improved mobility without undergoing surgery or dealing with hospital stays. The risk for complications is minimal, and you can undergo GAE several times in order to delay or avoid knee replacement surgery. Ready to see if you’re a candidate for GAE in Texas? Click here to request a consultation Click here to request a consultation Click here to request a consultation

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