A new treatment for chronic pain from osteoarthritis has been trialled following clinical research conducted by the Royal Berkshire Hospital and University of Reading.
The trial which is being managed by the Thames Valley Clinical Trails Unit, is a European first study. Tiny plastic beads - the size of a grain of sand - are injected into the knee to block the blood vessels that inflame the tissue and cause pain.
Prior to the procedure, patients were given an MRI scan of their brain and questionnaires to assess their pain threshold at the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN).
Richard Harrison, a researcher from the University of Reading’s School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences who is leading tests, said:
“We understand that pain is one of the biggest barriers to successful outcomes following surgery. By using the latest scanning technology and psychological assessment, we hope to identify specific traits that predict poor surgical outcome, and try and ultimately develop tools to improve outcomes.”
The procedure, called geniculate artery embolisation (GAE), involves positioning a plastic catheter tube into the abnormal knee blood vessels through a pinhole incision in the groin. X-rays are used to position the catheter into the arteries before the plastic beads are injected through it.
Dr Mark Little, a Consultant Interventional Radiologist at Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust and a visiting Professor at the University of Reading is leading the study, and said:
“If the results of this study and a larger follow on study confirm the benefits of this treatment, then geniculate artery embolization is a potential game changer for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Performed under only local anaesthetic, the procedure takes about one hour, and patients go home the same day-it is truly minimally invasive.
“If you can get patients off high-dose painkillers who are struggling with mobility and unable to work, it has a massive impact on their health and quality of life.
Professor Adrian Williams, Research Dean for Health at the University of Reading said:
“This is a wonderful example of collaborative research between our academics with clinical partners and patients in our local NHS Trusts. This initiative is just one example of how, working together, we are making a real difference to people’s lives in the region and around the world.”