What is interventional radiology?
Interventional radiology (IR) is a subspecialty of radiology that uses imaging techniques like X-ray and ultrasound to guide small tools into the body to diagnose and treat disease. Our interventional radiologists are board-certified doctors who have completed at least six years of specialized training after medical school.
Guided by imaging, radiologists can follow the flow of injected dye to locate problems such as a tumor or clot. Interventional radiology procedures also can open blocked vessels, dissolve blood clots, deliver cancer treatment and more.
Benefits of interventional radiology treatments include:
- Lower risk of complications
- Less pain
- Less scarring
- Shorter recovery time
- May eliminate the need for general anesthesia or hospitalization
Additionally, IR can provide treatment options if you have been diagnosed with an inoperable condition.
Interventional radiology treatments
As an alternative to traditional surgery, interventional radiology can be used to diagnose and treat diseases in nearly every organ system. Common treatments include:
- Angiography – This is an X-ray of the arteries and veins to find blockages or narrowing of the vessels as well as other problems.
- Cancer treatment – The doctor gives cancer medicine directly to the tumor site.
- Catheter insertion – The doctor inserts a catheter into large veins to provide chemotherapy drugs, nutritional support and hemodialysis. It also may be inserted before a bone-marrow transplant.
- Gastrostomy tubes – The doctor inserts a feeding tube into the stomach if you can’t take food by mouth.
- Intravascular ultrasound – The doctor uses ultrasound inside a blood vessel to be able to better see and find problems.
- Needle biopsy – The doctor inserts a small needle into an abnormal area of the body, guided by imaging techniques, to take a tissue biopsy. This type of biopsy can provide a diagnosis without surgical intervention. An example of this procedure is a needle breast biopsy.
- Injection of clot-dissolving agents – The doctor injects clot-dissolving drugs, such as tissue plasminogen activator, into the body to dissolve blood clots and increase blood flow to the arms, legs or organs.
Interventional radiology might not be right for every person, so talk with a doctor to discuss your options.