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Choosing an alternative knee replacement option

Posted on October 22, 2023
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Recently, our Texas Knee Institute's interventional radiologists added Genicular Artery Embolization, or GAE, as an alternative knee replacement procedure. This is a minimally invasive procedure that relieves knee inflammation and pain without surgery. It works by decreasing blood flow to parts of the knee that have sustained osteoarthritis damage. But what causes that damage? And who should seek this alternative knee replacement? Here's everything you need to know!

Osteoarthritis Knee Damage

When working properly, your knee joints act like hinges, letting you bend or move with ease. However, every year of life puts wear and tear on your knee joints and the underlying cartilage. As a result, your bone may exposed and osteoarthritis, pain, stiffness and joint immobility may result.

Age increases your risk for knee osteoarthritis; in fact, the National Institutes of Health notes that, after turning 60, 10% of men and 13% suffer from this condition. Most require some form of pain relief, but many hope it can come without surgery. As a result, our GAE alternative knee replacement is now a very popular treatment option for osteoarthritis.

What Happens During GAE

Though it's a fairly new way to treat knee osteoarthritis, GAE is extremely effective. It works by taking a fresh approach to osteoarthritis relief, targeting inflammation instead of cartilage degradation. By changing the mechanism of action, it's able to slow the bone degradation of bone-on-bone contact, relieve pain and slow the progression of disease. And it does so without surgery!

But can GAE relief really last? According to theĀ UCLA Medical Center study, one year after GAE, 70% of patients have less pain, stiffness or difficulty walking. Clearly, the procedure offers more lasting results than many other non-surgical treatment options.

A Closer Look at the Alternative Knee Replacement

What happens during the GAE treatment? To begin this outpatient procedure, our interventional radiologists make a small incision in the crease of the leg to access the femoral artery via catheter. Next, we guide that catheter using x-ray imaging to access three of the seven genicular arteries that feed blood to your knee joint.

Patients remain awake during GAE, so we can accurately target the exact sources of knee pain. Once we find the right spots, we'll insert beads to the catheter, blocking blood flow to the arteries feeding spots where you experience pain and inflammation. In about two hours, your procedure is complete. Then, following an observation period for safety, you'll be free to go home (on modified activity levels), and can avoid an overnight hospital stay.

Alternative Knee Replacement: Who is a Candidate?

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 Texas Knee Institute by clicking here to request an appointment.clicking here to request an appointment.clicking here to request an appointment.

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