Interventional radiology is the use of minimally invasive nonsurgical procedures to deliver treatment. An interventional radiologist performs the procedures using image guidance, which includes ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), fluoroscopy, x-ray, and computed tomography (CT). The images guide the radiologist when using needles or catheters to the exact area where the procedure is to be performed.
Interventional radiology can help to diagnose infections, treat tumors, help treat complications that you may have, and guide biopsies. Keep scrolling to learn more about various interventional radiology procedures.
Angiography is a medical imaging procedure that shows images of your blood vessels, arteries, and veins. A specialized x-ray examination checks your arteries and veins for blockages and other blood vessel complications. Venography checks how blood flows through your veins.
Radiologists use this procedure to:
Check if there is a narrowing in a blood vessel that interferes with blood flow through your body.
Locate a vein for use in a bypass procedure or dialysis access.
Detect blood clots.
Chest and Arm Ports
A port is a device a radiologist inserts beneath your skin to allow medicine into your veins or to draw blood from the veins for further testing. Think of it as an artificial vein. Your medical provider can order a port to enable easy infusion of chemotherapy or intravenous medicines since the medicines may need a larger vein than the one in your arms to get into the bloodstream.
Implanted ports can stay in place for years, and you can usually go about your daily routine without worrying about it. The port also makes your future treatments more comfortable.
A drainage catheter is a small, hollow, flexible tube that is inserted into your body to drain unwanted fluids. For a drainage catheter, you will undergo an imaging test that will guide the radiologist to identify the area with unwanted fluids. The doctor will then insert the catheter to drain the fluid. Drainage catheters are informally known as pigtails and can be inserted into almost any part of your body.
SDMI also uses Aspira peritoneal and pleural drains. While drainage catheters are usually temporary, Aspira drains are mostly for end-stage cancer. This will drain ascites (fluid collecting in the abdomen) while the patient is at home, so they can be more comfortable during the remainder of their time.
IVC Filter Placement and Removal
An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is used in patients with the risk of developing blood clots in the legs. The filter traps large blood clots and prevents them from traveling from the vena cava vein to the heart and lungs. Blood clots can develop in the veins of the leg (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT), and can occasionally break up and travel to the lungs. The clot can cause problems such as difficulty breathing, chest pains, or even death if not trapped.
Needle Biopsy/Bone Biopsy
A needle biopsy is a medical test that helps doctors identify the cause of lumps, infections, or inflammation in your body. The radiologist will use a medical image (CT or ultrasound) to guide the needle biopsy and obtain biological samples from your body. The common types of needle biopsies are:
Fine needle aspiration (FNA). This uses a thin and small needle to extract fluids, tissues, or cells.
Core needle (CN). This uses a hollow needle to take samples from the examined area.
Due to a variety of reasons, the ureter might get clogged and prevent urine flow. Nephrostomy and ureteral stenting help restore urine flow through obstructed ureters and kidney function. A radiologist will use image guidance to insert a tube known as a stent in the ureter to aid in urine flow. The ureter transports urine from the kidney to the bladder.
Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty
Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are minimally invasive nonsurgical procedures used to treat painful vertebral compression fractures in the spinal column, a common result of osteoporosis/spinal injury.
A radiologist uses image guidance in vertebroplasty to inject a cement mixture through a hollow needle into the fractured bone. Kyphoplasty involves inserting a balloon into the broken bone through the hollow needle to create a cavity, and then cement is injected into the cavity once the balloon is removed.
Patients who undergo this procedure often feel significant relief within a few days after the procedure is completed. They can also resume their daily routines.
How to Prepare for Interventional Radiology
The following are steps that you can take to prepare for your interventional radiology procedure:
Inform your doctor about any medications you’re taking.
Check with your doctor to see if you need to fast before your procedure.
Women should inform their doctors if they are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
Your doctor may advise you to forego some medications before the procedure, like aspirin or blood thinners.
You should plan to have someone drive you home after the procedure.
List any allergies you have, especially with local anesthesia or contrast materials.
Interventional radiology offers a number of advantages for patients. It makes your procedure less invasive, which also shortens recovery time. Plus, it’s safe and effective. Interventional radiology procedures have lower risks and can be an effective alternative to traditional surgery as they can sometimes accomplish similar goals.
SDMI is here to make medical imaging and related procedures faster, easier, and more convenient. We hold ourselves to the highest standard of care. That, coupled with our state-of-the-art technology, has garnered us local and national recognition. If you’re ready to book your appointment or have any questions, contact us today.