Interventional Radiology Uncovered: What It Is And What It’s Used For

The advent and evolution of medical imaging devices have done wonders for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and other medical conditions. While these devices allow for clear, detailed images of our body’s internal structures, they have also revolutionized surgery and made it possible for once complicated procedures to become minimally invasive.

Today, a thin tube and an incision only a few centimeters long can be enough to operate, diagnose, or treat a medical condition. This is because, with imaging technology and interventional radiology, interventional radiologists have the ability to confidently delve into our body without the need to see inside it first-hand.

What Is Interventional Radiology?

Interventional radiology is medical sub-specialty that provides diagnosis and treatment for a broad range of diseases and conditions. The two defining characteristics of interventional radiology are minimally invasive procedures and image-guided technology. Many interventional radiology procedures use balloons, catheters, stents, and small tubes to treat various conditions such as blocked blood vessels and fluid build-ups.

Interventional radiologists use medical imaging devices, such as MRI or CT scans, to help guide these procedures, often in real time. These images help the minimally invasive procedure go as smoothly as possible because they can target affected areas with extreme precision.

Interventional radiology procedures are becoming more and more popular given their minimal risk levels and fast recovery; they are currently the preferred method of treatment for many conditions.

A few interventional radiology procedures include:

  • Diagnostic Angiography TIPS

  • Intravascular Stents

  • Angioplasty

  • Central Venous Catheters

  • Thrombolysis

  • Embolization Gastrointestinal (GI) Procedures

  • Fibroid Embolization Genitourinary (GU) Procedures

  • Thoracic Procedures

What Is Interventional Radiology Used For?

The range of diseases and conditions that are receptive to treatment through interventional radiology is extremely wide. Most patients in need of interventional radiology are either dealing with a blood clot or vascular/arterial blockage somewhere in the body that is causing cardiac problems such as a stroke or heart attack, or they are dealing with excessive bleeding that needs to be stopped.

Stroke patients can undergo interventional radiology procedures to eliminate blood clots in the brain. Interventional radiology can also be used to create clotting or block blood flow to areas that are bleeding. These blockages, or embolisms, can help stop uterine bleeding from fibroids and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Interventional radiologists also perform angioplasties to surgically unblock blood vessels such as coronary arteries. One common angioplasty technique is the balloon angioplasty and stent. If you have had a heart attack or suffer from blockage of blood vessels, then your doctor may insert a catheter into the affected artery. This catheter will have a balloon on the end of it, and that balloon will be surrounded by a stent. A stent is typically made of a metal mesh and is used to support weakened arteries. The balloon will inflate and expand the narrowed artery, and then the stent will lock into place, thereby increasing blood flow back to a normal level.

Thrombolysis is another way for interventional radiologists to treat blood clots. The interventional radiology physician will insert a catheter directly to the blood clot, using radiology imaging to locate it. Then, the doctor will use this catheter to deliver thrombolytic drugs that will break up the clot. This catheter may also have a mechanism on the end of it to physically break up the clot. This procedure is used to treat blood clots in dialysis catheters, bypass grafts, and deep vein thrombosis.

More Information

Interventional radiology can help countless systems of the body, and diagnose and treat many different diseases. Your physician may recommend an interventional radiology procedure for conditions of the vascular, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, genitourinary, pulmonary, or central nervous systems. To find out more information about this exciting medical specialty, you can visit Rosetta Radiology website or contact us to book an appointment.

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