Interventional radiology is a sub-specialty of radiology where minimally invasive procedures are completed using image guidance, such as X-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound. Procedures may be used for both diagnosis and/or treatment.
Interventional procedures have always been an important part of the care of patients with cancer. They allow an easy way to:
Catheter-delivered therapies use catheters directed through the arteries under X-Ray, directly to the tumor through its own blood supply. This decreases the systemic side effects of the drug while increasing its direct effect on the tumor.
Embolization is the injection of tiny particles into the bloodstream that then travel to the tumor and disrupt its oxygen supply. Embolization works best in the liver because of its unique dual blood supply, but can also be used for other areas such as the kidneys or bones.
Chemo-embolization combines the injection of particles with chemotherapy agents.
Radio-embolization is an injection of millions of tiny spheres carrying radioactive particles. Not only does this cut off the flow of oxygen to the tumor, but also delivers a lethal dose of radiation therapy to inside the tumor. This provides direct treatment to the tumor while minimizing the radiation exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue.
Radio-Frequency Ablation is done by direct placement of special needles into the tumor through the skin, similar to the way a biopsy is performed. Thermal energy by electrical current through the needle is then delivered, killing the tumor cells by heat. Chemical agents, like ethanol, can be injected as well to kill the tumors and enhance the effect of RFA.
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