Genicular Artery Embolization

Genicular Artery Embolization (GAE) represents an innovative medical advancement that offers promising results for those living with the daily struggle of osteoarthritis. 

The chronic joint pain and stiffness that accompany this condition can dramatically impact one's quality of life, turning even simple activities such as climbing stairs or walking a dog into a challenge. However, GAE, a minimally invasive procedure, aims to reduce the knee pain associated with osteoarthritis, providing potential relief for sufferers.

Dr.Ulric Bigby will work with you to find the best possible treatment solution for your osteoarthritis, and if you choose GAE, will guide you through the entire process.

Understanding Genicular Artery Embolization

Genicular Artery Embolization, or GAE, is a relatively novel, minimally invasive procedure designed to alleviate knee pain in patients suffering from osteoarthritis.

The term "geniculur" originates from the Latin word "geniculum," which translates to "knee." An embolism refers to a situation in which a blood vessel becomes obstructed by an abnormal particle. In the context of GAE, embolization involves the intentional occlusion, or blocking, of a blood vessel.

In essence, GAE is a procedure that targets the genicular arteries - six arteries located in the leg around the knee - to slow down the blood supply to the capillaries in the knee joint tissue.

This innovative treatment does not cure osteoarthritis but offers an effective way to manage its symptoms, improve your quality of life, reduce reliance on opioids and other painkillers, and circumvent the need for invasive surgery or frequent pain management injections.

The Prevalence of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, also referred to as degenerative joint disease, is a common condition that affects over 32 million adults in the United States. 

It is characterized by the gradual breakdown of cartilage between the bones, leading to joint pain and inflammation. While this condition can affect any joint in the body, it is most frequently observed in the knees, hips, hands, and spine.

Risk factors for developing osteoarthritis include age, obesity, joint injury, and frequent, repetitive stress on the joints. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis, and genetics may also play a role in determining an individual's susceptibility to the condition.

The Procedure: How Does GAE Work?

The GAE procedure is performed in an outpatient setting. It is a minimally invasive procedure. 

The process begins when Dr. Bigby makes a small incision in the upper thigh to insert a thin, hollow tube called a catheter into the artery. Using X-ray images for guidance, the catheter is then navigated down to the arteries that supply blood to the tissue lining the knee.

Once the catheter is correctly positioned, Dr. Bigby injects small microsphere particles that slow the blood supply to the capillaries in the knee joint tissue.

The entire procedure is performed under moderate sedation, allowing you to return home the same day. Following the procedure, most people typically experience a significant reduction in pain and other functional symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Who Can Benefit from GAE?

While GAE is a promising treatment option for knee pain, it might not be suitable for everyone. The best candidates for this procedure are individuals who meet the following criteria:

  • Diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee or degenerative joint disease (DJD)
  • Persistent pain in one or both knees
  • Pain in the knees when walking up or down the stairs
  • Stiffness in the knees after long periods of inactivity
  • Persistent usage-related knee pain
  • Previous failure or diminishing relief from conservative treatment – i.e., physical therapy or joint injections

Before undergoing GAE, it is essential to discuss your medical history and current health condition with your healthcare provider.

Potential Drawbacks of GAE

Like any medical procedure, GAE is not without its potential drawbacks. Some patients may experience transient skin discoloration and mild knee pain following the procedure. Other possible treatment-related adverse events include:

  • A groin hematoma requiring overnight observation
  • Self-resolving focal skin ulceration
  • Asymptomatic small bone infarct on magnetic resonance imaging.

However, it's important to note that these side effects are generally rare and temporary. 

Is GAE a surgical procedure?

No, GAE is a minimally invasive procedure performed by an interventional radiologist using a catheter and X-ray guidance. It does not involve any surgical incisions or general anesthesia.

How long does the GAE procedure take?

The GAE procedure typically takes between 45 and 90 minutes. You can go home on the same day after the procedure.

How quickly can I expect to see results after GAE?

Most patients report experiencing a significant reduction in knee pain and other symptoms of osteoarthritis within weeks of the GAE procedure. However, the exact timeline can vary depending on individual factors, such as the severity of osteoarthritis and your overall health condition.

Is GAE a permanent solution for osteoarthritis?

While GAE can significantly reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis, it does not cure the condition. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, and its progression can only be managed, not reversed.

Genicular Artery Embolization Expert

If you're living with the discomfort and mobility challenges of osteoarthritis, don't let your pain hold you back. Dr. Ulric Bigby and his team are dedicated to helping you overcome your pain and get back to enjoying life. 

To learn more about Genicular Artery Embolization and other treatment options, schedule your consultation online or contact us at one of our three locations:

Remember, your experience with osteoarthritis is unique, and it may take time to find the most effective treatment strategy for your specific needs. Trust Dr. Bigby to guide you on your journey to pain relief and improved quality of life.

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