Interventional radiologists are board-certified physicians who specialize in minimally invasive, targeted treatments. They offer the most in-depth knowledge of the least invasive treatments available coupled with diagnostic and clinical experience across all specialties. They use X-rays, MRI and other imaging to advance a catheter in the body, usually in an artery, to treat at the source of the disease non-surgically. As the inventors of angioplasty and the catheter-delivered stent, which were first used in the legs to treat peripheral arterial disease, interventional radiologists pioneered minimally invasive modern medicine.
Today many conditions that once required surgery can be treated non-surgically by interventional radiologists. Interventional radiology treatments offer less risk, less pain and less recovery time compared to open surgery.
Interventional radiology is a recognized medical specialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Interventional radiologists are board-certified physicians with additional advanced training in minimally invasive, targeted treatments performed using imaging to guide them. Their board certification includes both Vascular and Interventional Radiology and Diagnostic Radiology which are administered by the American Board of Radiology.
Interventional Radiologists Are Experts in Radiation Safety
Interventional radiologists' unique blend of skills fosters innovation and enables them to quickly adapt their imaging expertise to pioneer non surgical treatments that are guided by imaging. They adapt a technique proven to work for one problem and apply it to another. When it comes to the best practices for safely performing minimally invasive treatments, interventional radiologists pioneered the procedures and the standards for safety and quality. Patient safety is incorporated into the development of these advances because interventional radiology and diagnostic radiology training programs include radiation safety, radiation physics, the biological effects of radiation, and injury prevention.
The Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) publishes guidelines for minimally invasive treatments, including criteria for adequate training for specific interventional procedures, as well as expected success and complication rates. These evidence-based guidelines are used by the FDA, hospitals and regulatory groups.
For many years, surgery was the only treatment available for many conditions. Today, interventional radiology treatments are first-line care for a wide variety of conditions. It is important to get a second opinion and know all of your treatment options before consenting to any procedure or surgery.
- Angiography - 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, such as those occurring in the arteries in the legs or kidneys, by inserting a small stent which inflates and opens the vessel. This procedure is called a balloon angioplasty.
- Angioplasty - The use of a small balloon on the tip of a catheter inserted into a blood vessel to open up an area of blockage inside the vessel.
- Embolization - The insertion of a substance through a catheter into a blood vessel to stop hemorrhaging, or excessive bleeding.
- Uterine Fibroid Embolization - A minimally invasive treatment used to treat fibroid tumors of the uterus.
- Gastrostomy Tubes - A gastrostomy tube (feeding tube) is inserted into the stomach if the patient is unable to take food by mouth.
- Intravascular Ultrasound - The use of ultrasound inside a blood vessel to better visualize the interior of the vessel in order to detect problems inside the blood vessel.
- Stent Placement - A tiny, expandable coil, called a stent, is placed inside a blood vessel at the site of a blockage. The stent is expanded to open up the blockage.
- Sphenopalatine Ganglion Blocks - An anesthetic is administered through the nose to the SPG nerves to reduce their activity, effectively blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain. This can help treat migraine headaches.
- 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. An example of this procedure is called the needle breast biopsy.
- Inferior vena cava (IVC) filter placement and removal - A small cone-shaped device is implanted in the inferior vena cava just below the kidneys. The filter is designed to capture an embolism, a blood clot that has broken loose from one of the deep veins in the legs on its way to the heart and lungs.
- Injection of Clot-Lysing Agents - Clot-lysing agents, such as tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), are injected into the body to dissolve blood clots, thereby increasing blood flow to the heart or brain.
- Venous Access – The placement of a port, dialysis catheter, or other device into large veins for giving chemotherapy drugs, nutritional support, and hemodialysis.
- Cancer Treatment - Administering cancer medications directly to the tumor site, including Y-90.
- Radiofrequency Ablation - A thin tube (catheter) is inserted into an enlarged vein and heats the tip of the catheter using radiofrequency energy. As the catheter is pulled out, the heat destroys the vein by causing it to collapse and seal shut. This can be used to treat varicose veins.
- Varithena Ablation - Injection of a large vein with a foam solution to close a vein and seal it. This can treat varicose veins.
- Sclerotherapy - Injection of small- and medium-sized varicose veins with a solution that scars and closes those veins.
- Phlebectomy - A technique to remove varicose veins. In this procedure, several tiny cuts (incisions) are made in the skin through which the varicosed vein is removed.
- Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) - A medical imaging method using a specially designed catheter with a miniaturized ultrasound probe attached to the distal end of the catheter. The proximal end of the catheter is attached to computerized ultrasound equipment. This can be used to treat May-Thurner Syndrome (MTS).
- Angioplasty and Stenting of the Iliac Veins – A non-invasive surgical technique using guidance from the IVUS to restore blood flow throughout the legs. This can also be used to treat May-Thurner Syndrome (MTS).
Visit Radiologyinfo.org for more information.