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Case study: Study helps golf captain walk again

Linda Skilton was able to return to playing golf after undergoing a procedure for osteoarthritis of the knee as part of a study at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading.

The GENESIS study is looking at injecting tiny plastic beads - the size of a grain of sand - into the knee to block the blood vessels that inflame the tissue and cause pain.

Mrs Skilton, from Crowthorne, Berkshire, said: “I told my doctor my pain was getting worse and asked what my options were. He explained that I was now at the point where I needed a half knee replacement but asked if I would be interested in taking part in a new clinical trial.

“After he explained it to me, I quickly said yes, because it seemed to offer the chance of being pain free, without invasive surgery.”

Osteoarthritis is a condition where the protective cartilage on the ends of the bones  deteriorates, causing problems moving the joint. This leads to pain caused by inflammation and the growth of abnormal new blood vessels. It occurs mostly in older people.

Painkillers can be used to treat the symptoms of mild cases, however surgery to replace the knee may be needed in severe cases.

Researchers want to find treatments for patients with mild-to-moderate osteoarthritis pain for which painkillers have not worked.

The procedure, called geniculate artery embolisation (GAE), involves positioning a plastic catheter tube into the knee through a pinhole incision in the groin. X-rays are used to position the catheter into the arteries before the beads are injected through it.

Mrs Skilton, Ladies’ Captain for East Berkshire Golf Club, said: “I wasn’t able stand for too long because it got so sore and swollen and I couldn’t keep it bent or straight for any length of time either, which made sleeping difficult.

“The pain I experienced when walking meant I’d been having to use buggies around the golf course, which has been costing me a fortune. 

“I can only describe the pain as being like a permanent toothache; just a dragging, gnawing pain that you can’t get any relief from.

“Since the procedure, I can easily walk up the stairs for the first time in years. I’m delighted with the outcome.”