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Radiologic Imaging: Interventional Radiology Techniques Explained

ECCO Medical’s interventional radiologists use non-invasive diagnostic or “radiologic” imaging to treat vascular system conditions.

Using images of the body’s internal structure, ECCO physicians Aaron Kovaleski and Charles Nutting, can determine the best course of action for any given vascular condition. This includes pre-procedural planning all the way through follow up imaging.

All without open surgery.

interventional radiologist reviewing a diagnostic image

Radiologic Imaging Types

Many conditions require imaging to improve patient outcomes. But not every condition requires the same kind of imaging technique. Below are a few imaging pathways that help ECCO interventional radiologists determine the best course of action.

  • CT Scan: Stands for “Computed Tomography” in which multiple angles of X-rays combine to form an image using computers.
  • Fluoroscopy: Continuous X-Ray imaging seen on a monitor, much like an X-Ray movie.
  • MRI: Stands for “Magnetic Resonance Imaging” in which computers use magnetic fields and radio waves to create images.
  • Ultrasound: High frequency sound waves capture images from inside the body on a monitor.
  • (Click here for a complete list of radiologic imaging techniques.)

Radiologic Imaging Uses

Different conditions impact different areas of the body, therefore requiring different radiologic imaging techniques. Below are a few common procedures and the imaging techniques that prove most helpful.

Embolization

Embolization procedures (liver cancer, prostate enlargement and uterine fibroids) require planning “cross-sectional” radiologic imaging such as CT and/or MRI, before and following treatment. This allows the physicians to evaluate for anatomic variants, as well as treatment response. At ECCO, we use Embolization to treat organ enlargement or tumors within organs. Cross-sectional radiologic imaging allows physicians to view these tumors and organs in better detail.

Since the treatments occur through vessels in the abdomen and pelvis, injecting dye while using fluoroscopic imaging allows the physicians to see the blood vessels. This is how the physicians determine which vessels to treat, as they can follow the blood supply.

Arterial Revascularization

Prior to procedures performed on the legs, non-invasive vascular tests allow physicians to determine the correct course of treatment. The most common modality used is ultrasound. Ultrasound radiologic imaging can see blood vessels in the legs easily because the vessels in the legs don’t have any overlying organs which could limit visibility. This makes evaluation and qualification quick and easy. 

Pulse Volume Recording, or PVR, also evaluates the functionality of the blood vessels. Done using a series of blood pressure cuff measurements at different locations on the legs, PVR not only diagnoses artery disease, but evaluates treatment response following a procedure. PVR tests after treatments determine if any narrowings or blockages have recurred. 

Vein Evaluation

Vein evaluation depends on the veins that potentially need treatment. If the issue is in the legs, then ultrasound will suffice because there are no overlying elements. Pelvic vein issues (varicocele, pelvic congestion syndrome, May-Thurner Syndrome) require cross-sectional radiologic imaging to see the extent of pelvic vein disease.

Choosing the Right Technique

At ECCO our physicians use ultrasound and PVR imaging: however, cross-sectional imaging occurs at hospitals or imaging centers. The physicians have digital access to nearly all major imaging venues in the state of Colorado.

It is not on the patient to know what sort of radiologic imaging they need. At ECCO, we make certain the appropriate imaging happens prior to making decisions about treatment. Patients will have these conversations face-to-face with the physician or via telemedicine. This approach saves patients time and prevents unnecessary radiologic imaging and costs.

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