Interventional radiology (IR) is the use of image guidance to perform minimally invasive procedures.
IR is available in three forms:
- X-Ray Fluoroscopy – A continuous beam is sent through a body part, so that both the part itself and its motion pattern can be seen in a video.
- Ultrasound CT (computed tomography) – A three-dimensional image of a body part is created by a computer, using a series of different images
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) – A test that uses powerful magnets, radio waves, and a computer to make detailed pictures inside your body
Interventional Radiology leads to:
- Less risk of infection or other complications associated with traditional open surgery
- Shorter hospital stays
- Lower costs
- Quicker recovery
Interventional radiology procedures are performed in special rooms with high tech fluoroscopy equipment. You are placed on the fluoroscopy table and positioned for the best imaging. Most IR procedures are performed using moderate sedation. This means you are given medication to keep comfortable and relaxed during the procedure. A nurse gives this medication and watches your vital signs. The nurse also makes sure you are as comfortable as possible.
During IR procedures, the doctor is able to navigate blood vessels using catheters (thin, flexible, hollow tube) and wires that are inserted through a small cut, usually made in the groin, to reach the area on your body that needs treatment. The doctor is able to use a special dye (IV contrast) to take pictures of the vessels (also known as an angiogram. These non-surgical, minimally invasive options are taking the place of more traditional open surgeries to treat many conditions.
Who are Interventional Radiologists?
Interventional radiologists are physician specialists who are trained in both traditional radiology as well as the use of needles, fine catheters and wires to navigate in the body, guided by imaging.
Interventional Radiology can treat conditions related to:
- Arteries and Veins
- Blood clots
- Poor blood supply
- Bulging or weak artery walls
- Bleeding (hemorrhage)
- Excess fluid
- Blood clots or bleeding
- Tangle of blood vessels
- Women’s Health
- Varicose veins around the ovaries (Pelvic Congestion Syndrome)
- Heavy bleeding after having a baby (post-partum hemorrhage)
- Uterine fibroids
- Men’s Health
- Enlarged prostate gland (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia)
- Varicocele (varicose veins that can cause pain, swelling and infertility)
- Kidneys or Urinary Tract
- Stone extraction
Interventional Radiology is used in a wide range of procedures:
- Angioplasty: Insertion and inflation of a small balloon in a blocked or narrowed blood vessel to open the vessel
- Cancer treatments, including:
- Cryotherapy/Microwave Ablation: Burning or freezing cancerous tumors (tumor ablation)
- Chemo Embolization/Ytritum 90 (Y90) Embolization: Delivering cancer-fighting agents directly to the tumor, blocking blood flow to the cancer cells to kill or shrink the tumor
- Portacath Insertion: Placing and removing an implantable port used for long term IV therapy treatment
- Central line placement: Placement of a thin, flexible tube into a central vein
- Drainage: Removing fluid from around lungs or belly area
- Embolization: Reducing or blocking the blood supply to a specific area including arteries, veins, lungs, surrounding ovaries, prostate
- Gastrostomy Tube Insertion: Placing a tube directly into the stomach for long term feeding
- Image-guided biopsy: The use of ultrasound or CT images to guide a needle into an abnormal mass to get a tissue sample
- Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filters: Placing and retrieving filters that prevent clots from moving from the heart to the lungs
- Stent Placement: Insertion of a small flexible tube to hold open a clogged or blocked blood vessel
- Thrombolysis: Clearing blocked blood flow with the use of clot busting medications and special equipment to break up and remove the clot and restore blood flow
- Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS): Inserting a shunt (a channel) to create a new connection between blood vessels in the liver
- Uterine Fibroid Embolization: Cutting off the blood supply to the fibroid causing them to shrink
- Vertebroplasty: Injection of bone cement into a fractured vertebra to treat pain