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Interventional Radiology Services and Treatments

Interventional radiology can be used to diagnose and treat diseases in nearly every organ system using minimally invasive procedures. These treatments can be used as an alternative to open surgery in some cases.

Interventional radiology treatments

Interventional radiology is often used to access blood vessels in a less invasive way than traditional surgery. If you have clogged arteries for example, surgical treatment could include valve replacement or bypass surgery. An interventional radiologist on the other hand could insert a tube into your artery that allows a small balloon to inflate and clear the blockage, all with just a tiny incision.

Common IR 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.
  • Angioplasty – The doctor inserts a small balloon-tipped catheter into a blood vessel and inflates the balloon to open up an area of blockage inside the vessel.
  • 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.
  • Embolization – The doctor inserts a substance through a catheter into a blood vessel to stop blood flow through that vessel. This can be done to control excessive bleeding.
  • Foreign body removal – The doctor inserts a catheter into a blood vessel to remove a foreign object in the vessel.
  • Gastrostomy tubes – The doctor inserts a feeding tube into the stomach if you can’t take food by mouth.
  • 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 your arms, legs or organs.
  • Intravascular ultrasound – The doctor uses ultrasound inside a blood vessel to better see and find problems.
  • IVC filters – The doctor inserts a small filter into the inferior vena cava (IVC), a large vein in your abdomen. The filter catches blood clots that may go into your lungs.
  • Stent placement – The doctor places a tiny, expandable mesh coil, called a stent, inside a blood vessel at the site of a blockage. He or she expands the stent to open up the blockage.
  • 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.

Interventional radiology might not be right for every person, so talk with a doctor to discuss all your options.

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