Miller School Radiologist Secures FDA Approval to Study Knee Osteoarthritis Treatment

Patients have reported superior pain scores in the week following genicular artery embolization, an outpatient procedure.

Shivank Bhatia, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Interventional Radiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Institution Review Board (IRB) approvals to launch a first-of-its-kind study in South Florida using genicular artery embolization (GAE) for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis.

The Most Common Arthritis

Knee osteoarthritis is the most common arthritis diagnosis, and its prevalence is expected to continue to increase as life expectancy and obesity rise.

An illustration of osteoarthritis of the knee.
As many as 40% of people 70 and older suffer from knee osteoarthritis.

Approximately 13% of women and 10% of men ages 60 years and older have symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. The prevalence of knee osteoarthritis is as high as 40% among those older than 70 years.

“Treatment for knee osteoarthritis ranges from physical therapy and pain relievers to injections and ultimately total knee joint replacement,” said Dr. Bhatia. “Mild-to-moderate knee osteoarthritis that is resistant to conservative treatment but is not yet severe enough to warrant joint replacement represents a specific management challenge and a huge unmet need.”

Non-surgical Management of Osteoarthritis

GAE is a novel, innovative, minimally invasive, nonsurgical treatment that has been shown in limited studies to provide long-term relief to the pain, swelling and lack of mobility from symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.

Miller School interventional radiologist Shivank Bhatia, M.D.
Miller School interventional radiologist Shivank Bhatia, M.D., says genicular artery embolization may be a long-lasting approach to knee osteoarthritis.

While GAE has been studied at academic centers in California and North Carolina, the study at the Miller School of Medicine will be the first in South Florida, according to Dr. Bhatia. 

“GAE appears to work by reducing blood flow and inflammation to the knee joint lining, known as the synovium,” Dr. Bhatia said. “Interventional radiologists perform the procedure on an outpatient basis, meaning patients go home after this painless procedure. We insert a small catheter into the upper thigh artery and use x-ray guidance to use the catheter to inject tiny particles into the arteries around the synovium to reduce inflammation and lessen pain.”

Patients’ pain scores have been shown to plummet within the first week of having GAE, and results seem to last two to three years, according to Dr. Bhatia.

“That’s much longer than injections with steroids, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or hyaluronic acid, which last for maybe three to six months,” Dr. Bhatia said. “If GAE pans out in studies like ours, it will offer a much-needed option for people who suffer daily with painful knees.”


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Tags: Department of Interventional Radiology, Dr. Shivank Bhatia, osteoarthritis, USNWR Ortho