Interventional Radiology

Interventional Radiology allows radiologists to view the inside of the body, guiding narrow tubes or catheters and other very small instruments to the location of a medical problem. Procedures performed by interventional radiologists are less invasive which results in less pain and risk and are performed at a lower cost.



Angiogram, showing severe narrowing of the left internal carotid artery, supplying the brainAngiography is an x-ray exam of the arteries used to diagnose blood vessel problems such as blockages, narrowing, or bleeding. It involves the use of a catheter (tube) inserted into an artery. The catheter is inserted through a small nick in the skin, a contrast agent or x-ray dye is then injected to allow visibility of the blood vessels on the x-ray image. One of the more common uses of angiography is to determine if there is a blockage or narrowing in the blood vessels that interferes with the normal flow of blood through the body. Often times, the interventional radiologist can also treat the blocked blood vessel with balloon angioplasty and thrombolysis (clot-disolving) techniques. Other reasons for performing angiograms include aneurysms, cerebral vascular disease such as stroke or bleeding in the brain, or blood vessel malformations. Angiograms can also be used by surgeons to assist in planning an operation or choosing the appropriate surgical procedure.

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Angioplasty/Stent Placement/Thrombolytic Therapy

Angiogram, showing an aortic stent graftAngioplasty is a technique in which the interventional radiologist inserts a very small balloon attached to a thin catheter into a blood vessel in order to open an artery. A stent, or small metal tube, is often inserted to hold the blood vessel open. In some cases where the blockage is caused by a blood clot, special drugs that dissolve clots are injected through the catheter to restore the blood flow.

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Blood Clot Treatment

Development of blood clots or emboli can be life threatening if they travel to the brain, lungs or heart and affect vital organ function or create an obstruction in the blood supply to that organ. Two interventional procedures are used to reduce the blood clot risks including thrombolysis and filter placement. Thrombolysis involves a process where a catheter is guided to the site of the clot and clot-busting drugs or thromobolytics are infused to break up the clot. Filter placement is a technique used when a blood clot is found in the blood vessels of the leg or deep vein thrombosis. A filter is guided via a catheter into the vena cava, which carries blood to the heart. The filter is used to trap the blood clot before it can reach the lungs.

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Central Venous Access

Interventional Radiologists can place Central Venous Access. Central Venous Access includes Subcutaneous Port for Chemotherapy, catheter for Dialysis, and catheter for longterm antibiotics and total parenteral nutrition (TPN). Typically these are placed under fluoroscopic guidance in the veins of the neck or chest.

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Cancer Treatment - Chemoembolization

Transcatheter chemoembolization is an interventional procedure where chemotherapy drugs are injected into the liver to kill tumor cells. A catheter is inserted through a small nick in the skin in the groin and is guided by x-ray image to the liver or the site of the tumor. Contrast agent or dye is injected into the blood vessels to highlight the arteries. The catheter is used to visualize the blood vessels that supplies blood to the tumor where chemotherapy drugs and tiny particles are injected. The effect of the injection of the particles is to decrease the blood flow and concentrate chemotherapy in the tumor in order to shrink the tumor size.

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Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular disease often called "hardening of the arteries" is a common circulatory condition in which the arteries that carry blood to the legs or other body parts become narrowed or clogged. There are a number of treatment options offered for PVD including angioplasty, stent, and thrombolytic therapy.

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TIPS or transjuglular intrahepatic portosystemic shunts, is a procedure for treatment of blocked or reduced blood flow to the liver caused by cirrhosis, hepatitis or portal hypertension. A catheter is inserted through a small incision in the skin near the neck and guided via x-ray to create a new opening in the liver between the portal vein and one of the hepatic veins. A stent is inserted to hold open the shunt created by the catheter.

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Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Interventional radiologists perform a procedure known as uterine fibroid embolization in which a catheter is utilized to embolize the arteries in order to block the supply of blood to fibroid tumors. In this minimally invasive procedure, the reduced or blocked blood supply to the fibroid tumors will cause the tumors to shrink. Uterine fibroids are common tumors in females and are benign growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. The size and location of the fibroids can lead to problems including pain and heavy or prolonged bleeding.

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Additional Procedures

In addition to the procedures outlined above, the Radiology Physicians' interventional radiologists perform a number of additional procedures to address vascular diseases. They consult with your referring physicians to determine the best treatment options for your condition.

  • Biliary stone removal
  • Ureteral stent placement
  • Nephrostomy tube placement
  • Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography
  • Biliary and urinary tract decompression
  • Treatment of gastrointestinal hemorrhage
  • Varicocele embolization []
  • Vertebroplasty []

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For more information on Interventional Radiology, visit the Society of Interventional Radiology web site.