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Interventional Radiology

What is interventional radiology?

Interventional radiologists diagnose and treat disease. They treat a wide range of conditions in the body by inserting various small devices, such as catheters or wires from outside the body. X-ray and imaging methods, such as CT and ultrasound help guide the radiologist. Interventional radiology can be used instead of surgery for many conditions. In some cases, it can eliminate the need for hospitalization.

Who is the interventional radiologist?

The interventional radiologist is a medical doctor who has completed an accredited residency program. They can then take the board exam given by the American Board of Radiology. Next, the interventional radiologist completes a fellowship training program. These experts work closely with other healthcare providers and play an important role on the treatment team.

What procedures do interventional radiologists perform?

Interventional radiologists do a variety of procedures, including:

  • Angiography. This is an X-ray of the arteries and veins to find blockage or narrowing of the vessels, as well as other problems.

  • Angioplasty. The provider puts a small balloon-tipped catheter into a blood vessel. Then they inflate the balloon to open up an area of blockage inside the vessel.

  • Embolization. The provider puts a substance through a catheter into a blood vessel to stop blood flow through that vessel. This can be done to control bleeding.

  • Gastrostomy tubes. The provider puts a feeding tube into the stomach if you can’t take food by mouth.

  • Intravascular ultrasound. The provider uses ultrasound to see inside a blood vessel to find problems.

  • Stent placement. The provider places a tiny mesh coil (stent) inside a blood vessel at the site of a blockage. They expand the stent to open up the blockage.

  • Foreign body removal. The provider puts a catheter into a blood vessel to remove a foreign body in the vessel.

  • Needle biopsy. The provider puts a small needle into almost any part of the body, guided by imaging methods, to take a tissue biopsy. This type of biopsy can give a diagnosis without surgery. An example of this procedure is called the needle breast biopsy.

  • IVCfilters. The provider puts a small filter into the inferior vena cava (IVC). This is a large vein in your belly (abdomen). The filter catches blood clots that may go into your lungs.

  • Injection of clot-dissolving medicines. The provider injects clot-dissolving medicines, such as tissue plasminogen activator. This medicine dissolves blood clots and increases blood flow to your arms, legs, or organs in your body.

  • Catheter insertions. The provider puts a tube (catheter) into a large vein to give chemotherapy medicines, nutrition, or hemodialysis. They may also put in a catheter before a bone marrow transplant.

  • Cancer treatment. The provider gives the cancer medicine directly to the tumor site.

Online Medical Reviewer: Dan Brennan MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Neil Grossman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2023
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