Interventional Radiology is a specialized, minimally invasive targeted treatment that has less risk, less pain and less recovery time than open surgical procedures. Interventional radiologists use their expertise in interpreting X-rays, ultrasound, MRI, CT and other diagnostic imaging studies to understand, visualize and diagnose the full scope of a disease and its pathology. This method allows the interventional radiologist to map out the procedure and tailor it to each patient's individual needs.
Using tiny instruments like catheters and wires, and steering them through blood vessels, interventional radiologists can treat a disease right at the site of the illness without the patient having to undergo the trauma of surgery.
Interventional radiology takes imaging a step further, by treating disease without surgery. In many procedures, guided by magnetic resonance or X-ray technology, small tubes called catheters are threaded into arteries and guided to different areas of the body to deliver medicine, destroy tumors, relieve vascular blockages and carry out other procedures.
IR reduces treatment time and the risk of surgical complications, but it has other benefits too. It can be used to obtain biopsies, to install "ports" like central venous catheters (to deliver medicine in hospitalized patients) and to diagnose post-surgical infections. "IR uses imaging to see inside a person so that we can do the equivalent of a surgical procedure - without having to cut someone open, says Raul Martin, M.D., interventional radiologist with Citizens Memorial Healthcare.
Once thought to be radical, interventional radiology today treats dozens of medical conditions. "The methods that at one time were felt to be experimental or very unusual are now mainstream and are broadly used," Gamble says. As technology continues to advance, this ever-changing area of medicine will allow doctors an inside look, improving our healthcare and treatment options.
Here are some examples of how IR is helping people today at Citizens Memorial Hospital:
Abscess Drainage: Many individuals develop infections and sometimes these infections are not adequately treated or they are missed and the result is the development of pus (Abscess). Pus collections can also occur as a result of surgery and may occur anywhere in the body. Abscess collections can be drained by interventional radiologists almost anywhere in the body.
Atherosclerosis: One of the better-known IR procedures, angioplasty is used to treat atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. A catheter is inserted through the skin into an artery and guided to the site of the blockage. Then a tiny balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated to expand the arterial wall. Next, the balloon is deflated, and a small expandable tube called a stent is left in place to keep the artery open.
Breast Abnormalities: Stereotactic and ultrasound imaging guides a needle to questionable breast tissue, where samples are removed for study and diagnosis.
Cancer: There are many individuals who are found to have a mass on a X-ray or on a CT scan. Some masses are benign but some may be malignant. The identity of the mass can only be determined after a biopsy. In the old days, the only way to biopsy certain masses was with surgery- which is a major undertaking. Today, a CT scan or ultrasound can identity the location of the mass and a biopsy can easily be performed with a needle.