You will meet with a board-certified interventional radiologist for a consultation, who will review your medical history and discuss treatment options. Lab tests might be performed during this appointment as well. If you are a candidate for an interventional radiology procedure, it will be scheduled at a nearby hospital or clinic.
Before your procedure, you will be asked to review educational materials and follow pre-operation instructions. This might include fasting and forgoing certain medications.
On the day of your interventional radiology procedure, you will fill out paperwork and possibly have blood drawn for final lab work. You will change into a gown and be taken to a procedure room that might feel similar to a surgical suite. You will lie on a special table and we will dim or turn off the lights. In most cases, you will receive an injection at the start of the procedure to provide necessary dye, medication or sedation. Interventional radiology patients rarely receive general anesthesia.
Procedure time varies from case to case, but is generally less than four hours. You will be taken to a recovery room and monitored closely after the procedure. After a few hours, you can have someone drive you home and assist with post-procedure instructions.
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. Interventional radiology treatments offer lower risk for complications, less pain and shorter recovery time than traditional surgery and may be able to eliminate the need for hospitalization.
A radiologist collects and interprets medical images obtained through X-ray, ultrasound, MRI or other means. Radiologists work with diagnoses across most medical specialties. Interventional radiologists have completed additional training and specialize in diagnosis and treatment using minimally invasive techniques such as wires and catheters. They work to provide an alternative to open surgery, especially in small spaces such as veins.
Conventional surgery involves a patient being cut open so the surgeon can see the area and operate on it accordingly. Surgical patients are generally admitted to the hospital, put to sleep using anesthesia and require a significant recovery period. Interventional radiology seeks to avoid surgery by using technology such as an endoscope (a small tube that enables a health professional to see inside the body) to operate through tiny incisions. This usually means less risk and easier recovery for you. IR procedures are generally performed in an outpatient setting.
Interventional oncology is a subspecialty of IR that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer using minimally invasive, targeted therapies. This can include locating tumors with injected dye and treating them with procedures such as chemoemobolization for liver cancer.