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Interventional radiology (IR) is a sub-specialty of radiology where minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are completed using image guidance, such as X-ray, CT scan, ultrasound, and other technologies. Interventional radiology procedures offer very targeted, comfortable, safe and effective alternatives to surgery, and can generally be performed through either a needle or a small catheter instead of an incision.
Some interventional radiology procedures include:
Angiography is a minimally invasive test in which an angiogram or "road map" of the arteries is made. An angiogram looks a lot like an x-ray and is used to plan or guide treatments such as surgery, angioplasty or stent placement.
Catheter-delivered therapies use catheters directed through the arteries under X-Ray, directly to a tumor through its own blood supply. The catheters can deliver medications, decreasing the systemic side effects of the drug while increasing its direct effect on the tumor.
When surgery or radiation may not be viable for large tumors, embolization can reduce the size of the tumor so that patients can become eligible for other treatments, such as surgery or transplant.
Embolization is the injection of tiny particles or other embolic material into the bloodstream that then travel directly to the tumor and disrupts its blood and oxygen supply. Embolization can also be used in various areas of the body such as the liver, kidneys, brain or bones.
Chemoembolization is the latest in interventional radiology treatments for liver cancer. This can be a cancer originating in the liver or a cancer that has spread (metastasized) to the liver from other areas in the body. During chemoembolization, chemotherapy drugs consisting of tiny spheres carrying radioactive particles are injected directly into the artery that supplies blood to the tumor in the liver. 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 surrounding healthy tissue. One example of radio-embolization is the use of SIRspheres, radioactive microspheres that are injected into the hepatic artery
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is a procedure done by direct placement of special needles into the tumor through the skin under the guidance of an imaging method such as ultrasound or computed tomography (CT), 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. The heat also closes up small blood vessels, thus minimizing the risk of bleeding. Chemical agents, like ethanol, can be injected as well to kill the tumors and enhance the effect of RFA. RFA is ideal for small, focal tumors and is effective in most parts of the body, such as in the liver, kidneys, lungs, bones and other areas.
A biopsy is a procedure where a small amount of tissue is taken for examination by a medical specialist (pathologist). This often provides precise diagnosis so that you and your doctor can make the best possible treatment decisions. Only a few years ago, most biopsies required a surgical operation. Today, medical equipment such as ultrasound, CT and fluoroscopy not only take internal images of the body, but can guide minimally invasive, percutaneous (through the skin) fine needle aspirations or core biopsies under local anesthetic with rapid recovery and minimal risk.
To learn more about any of these radiology procedures or to make an appointment, call 602.406.6700.