What is Interventional Radiology?

“Interventional Radiology” (also known as IR) is a small field in which physicians perform minimally invasive (non-surgical) procedures using medical imaging such as X-ray, CT, ultrasound, and MRI. The procedures typically involve nothing more than local anesthetic, followed by a needle stick.

How Does Interventional Radiology Work?

Some procedures involve sticking a needle into a vein or artery and injecting dye while watching on X-ray. The dye follows the direction of blood flow in the vessel, which gives the physician all sorts of information. Depending on the reason for the procedure, the physician can then advance a wire through the needle into the vessel. Once this happens, tiny specialized tubes thread over the wire to perform many interventions. This type of procedure is known as endovascular intervention, which means “inside the vessel.”

Other procedures happen “percutaneously”, or directly through the skin. An example would be liver tumor ablation (“tissue destruction”). A needle advances through the skin into a liver tumor using ultrasound or CT guidance. Connected to an energy source, that specialized needle then “burns” the tumor.

What Types of Procedures Take Place In Interventional Radiology?

Interventional radiologists perform a wide range of vascular and endovascular procedures. At ECCO, we specialize in image-guided treatments for arterial disease, liver cancer, enlarged prostates, uterine fibroids and a variety of other issues.

Percutaneous procedures include biopsies, tumor treatments, fluid drainage, and many other conditions.

How Do I Find The Best Interventional Radiologists?

To find the best Interventional Radiologists look for doctors who are well-reviewed, active in their practice, and have extensive experience. Typically, their colleagues and professional organizations recognize them as experts in specialized treatment therapies – such as Y90 radioembolizations or lower extremity revascularization.

Doctors must be Board Certified in Vascular and Interventional Radiology and Board Certified in Diagnostic Radiology. This ensures expertise in not only interpreting medical images, but also performing minimally invasive treatments through small incisions in the body.

What Are The Advantages of Interventional Radiology?

Most of these procedures take place in an outpatient setting with moderate sedation, rather than general anesthesia. Several of these treatment options are potential alternatives to invasive surgeries and carry a lower risk of bleeding and infection (due to their lack of incisions).

Ask your physician about less invasive options before committing to anything. There may just be a solution ECCO can provide!

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