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Interventional Radiology

What is interventional radiology?

Interventional radiologists are involved in the treatment of the patient, as well as the diagnosis of disease. They treat and diagnose an increasing range of conditions by inserting various small instruments or tools such as catheters or wires into the body. The interventional radiologist uses fluoroscopy, CT, MRI and ultrasound to localize the region of treatment or diagnosis.  Interventional radiology offers an alternative to the surgical treatment of many conditions and can eliminate the need for hospitalization in many cases.

Who is the interventional radiologist?

The interventional radiologist is a medical doctor who has completed training in an accredited residency program. The interventional radiologist also completes an interventional radiology fellowship training program. Interventional radiologists work closely with other doctors and play an important role on the treatment team.

What procedures do interventional radiologists perform?

Interventional radiologists perform a vast variety of procedures, including the following:

  • Angiography and Angioplasty. An X-ray of the arteries and veins to detect blockage or narrowing of the vessels. In many cases, the interventional radiologist can treat the blockages by inserting a small stent which opens the vessel. This procedure is called a balloon angioplasty.
  • Cancer treatment. This treatment uses catheters to selectively deliver anti-cancer medications and other tumor neutralizing therapy directly to the tumor site.
  • Embolization. The insertion of a substance through a catheter into a blood vessel to stop hemorrhaging or excessive bleeding.  Embolization of many forms may also be utilized to treat bleeding from trauma and to reduce blood flow to certain structures or tumors making subsequent surgery less risky.
  • Stent placement. A tiny, expandable tube called a stent is placed inside a blood vessel or other narrowed structure at the site of a blockage. The stent is expanded to open up the blockage.
  • Foreign body extraction. The use of a catheter inserted into a blood vessel to retrieve a foreign body in the vessel.
  • Needle biopsy. A small needle is inserted into the abnormal area in almost any part of the body guided by imaging techniques to obtain a tissue biopsy. This type of biopsy can provide a diagnosis without surgical intervention.
  • Blood clot dissolution and filters. A small device is inserted into a blood clot to break up blood clots.  Filters may also be placed to collect harmful clot and prevent potential harmful consequences.  Clot-lysing agents, such as tissue plasminogen activator may be injected into the body to dissolve blood clots, thereby increasing blood flow.
  • Catheter insertions. A catheter is inserted into large veins for various reasons including for giving chemotherapy drugs, nutritional support, and hemodialysis.