Interventional Radiology also referred to as Special Procedures, is a specialty dedicated to the practice of imaging guided procedures for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Angiography, for example, is one of the many procedures within Interventional Radiology. Angiograms provide x-ray images of arteries or veins for diagnostic purposes. Angiography is frequently used to detect narrowing, blockage, and damage to arteries, bleeding sites and tumours. It is also used to study the blood vessels in the arms, legs, heart, lungs and circulation in the brain. All interventional procedures are performed by specially trained Radiologists. Angioplasty, biopsies and many other procedures are included in interventional radiology. Interventional radiology plays a major role in quality healthcare.
Common Interventional Procedures:
- Angiography: An X-ray exam of the arteries and veins to diagnose blockages and other blood vessel problems; uses a catheter to enter the blood vessel and a contrast agent (X-ray dye) to make the artery or vein visible on the X-ray.
- Balloon angioplasty: Opens blocked or narrowed blood vessels by inserting a very small balloon into the vessel and inflating it. Used by IRs to unblock clogged arteries in the legs or arms (called peripheral vascular disease or PVD), kidneys, brain or elsewhere in the body.
- Biliary drainage and stenting: Uses a stent (small mesh tube) to open up blocked ducts and allow bile to drain from the liver.
- Central venous access : Insertion of a tube beneath the skin and into the blood vessels so that patients can receive medication or nutrients directly into the blood stream or so blood can be drawn.
- Chemoembolization: Delivery of cancer-fighting agents directly to the site of a cancer tumor; currently being used mostly to treat cancers of the endocrine system, including melanoma and liver cancers.
- Embolization: Delivery of clotting agents (coils, plastic particles, gel, foam, etc.) directly to an area that is bleeding or to block blood flow to a problem area, such as an aneurysm or a fibroid tumor in the uterus.
- Fallopian tube catheterization: Uses a catheter to open blocked fallopian tubes without surgery; a treatment for infertility.
- Gastrostomy tube: Feeding tube inserted into the stomach for patients who are unable to take sufficient food by mouth.
- Hemodialysis access maintenance: Use of angioplasty or thrombolysis to open blocked grafts for hemodialysis, which treats kidney failure.
- Needle biopsy: Diagnostic test for breast, lung and other cancers; an alternative to surgical biopsy.
- Radiofrequency ablation: Use of radiofrequency (RF) energy to “cook” and kill cancerous tumors.
- Stent: A small flexible tube made of plastic or wire mesh, used to treat a variety of medical conditions (e.g., to hold open clogged blood vessels or other pathways that have been narrowed or blocked by tumors or obstructions).
- Stent-graft: Reinforces a ruptured or ballooning section of an artery (an aneurysm) with a fabric-wrapped stent C a small, flexible mesh tube used to “patch” the blood vessel. Also known as an endograph.
- Thrombolysis: Dissolves blood clots by injecting clot-busting drugs at the site of the clot, often used for treating deep vein thrombosis and stroke.
- TIPS (transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt): A life-saving procedure to improve blood flow and prevent hemorrhage in patients with severe liver dysfunction.
- Uterine artery embolization: An embolization procedure of uterine arteries to stop life- threatening postpartum bleeding, potentially preventing hysterectomy. The same procedure is used to treat fibroid tumors and is then called UFE (Uterine Fibroid Embolization).
- Uterine fibroid embolization: An embolization procedure of uterine arteries to shrink painful, enlarged, benign tumors in the uterus, also called UAE (Uterine Artery Embolization).