Background: Genicular artery embolization (GAE) is an innovative technique that has been investigated as a supplementary treatment method for chronic pain secondary to knee osteoarthritis (OA).
Purpose: To evaluate the current evidence on the effectiveness and safety of GAE for OA-related knee pain.
Study Design: Systematic review; Level of evidence, 4.
Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted in the PubMed, Web of Science, EMBASE, and Scopus databases to identify studies related to knee OA treated with GAE. Treatment agents were categorized as Embozene, imipenem/cilastatin, resorbable microspheres, and polyvinyl alcohol. The main outcomes were the mean difference (MD) in pre- and postembolization pain based on the visual analog scale (VAS) or the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) scores as well as changes in the need for pain medication. Random- and fixed-effects models were applied for data analysis.
Results: Of 379 initially inspected publications, 11 (N = 225 patients; 268 knees) were included in the final review. The quality of the studies was fair in 8 and poor in 3-categorized according to the National Institutes of Health quality assessment tool. Overall, 119, 72, 13, and 21 patients were treated with imipenem/cilastatin, Embozene, resorbable microspheres, and polyvinyl alcohol, respectively. Symptomatic improvement was reported in all studies. The pooled effect size, characterized by MD, showed a significant improvement in the VAS and WOMAC pain scores, with better functional status after GAE. Pre- versus postembolization MDs in VAS scores ranged from 32 within the first week to 58 after a 2-year follow-up (equivalent to 54% and 80% improvement, respectively). There was a similar trend in the overall WOMAC scores, with MDs ranging from 28.4 to 36.8 (about 58% and 85% improvement, respectively). GAE resulted in a decreased need for pain medication for knee OA, with a 27%, 65%, and 73% decline in the number of patients who used opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and intra-articular hyaluronic acid injection, respectively ( P < .00001 for all). No significant difference between embolic agents was seen with regard to post-GAE pain reduction. No severe or life-threatening complications were reported.
Conclusion: OA treated by GAE using different embolic particles can be considered generally safe, with good efficacy and no reported serious complications.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors appreciate the assistance of Dr Seyed Afshin Seyednejad with the meta-analysis.
© The Author(s) 2021.
- genicular artery embolization
- knee joint
- knee pain