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Unlocking the Power of Interventional Radiology

The idea of needing a surgical procedure can feel scary for most patients. However, many conditions that once required traditional surgery can now be treated less invasively through innovative treatment approaches. Interventional radiology (IR) uses advanced imaging to guide specialists in conducting minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat common medical issues, revolutionizing patient care. Vascular & Interventional Specialists (VIS) at Charlotte Radiology offer this leading-edge technology for image-guided procedures that can help produce optimal results for many patients.

Understanding Interventional Radiology

Interventional radiology is a medical subspecialty of radiology. As board-certified specialists, interventional radiologists are physicians trained to perform minimally invasive procedures with the help of imaging such as MRI or ultrasound. VIS has 15+ interventional radiologists on staff who work closely with advanced practice providers (APPs) and technologists as part of a specialty care team.

This specialized care provides patients with an alternative treatment approach that is less invasive than traditional surgery, and often with proven outcomes and a faster recovery time, so patients can get back to their lives. Additionally, many advanced IR procedures can offer greater efficiency and cost savings for the patient without compromising care.

Read More: How Interventional Radiology Is Transforming Cancer Treatment

Groundbreaking Applications of Interventional Radiology

Interventional radiology can treat dozens of medical conditions that previously needed open surgery or, in some cases, may not have even been treatable. IR procedures are used to treat conditions including:

  • Arterial aneurysms, including aortic aneurysms
  • Blood clots in your lungs (pulmonary embolism)
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in a major vein in your legs or pelvis that can lead to an embolism
  • Enlarged prostate, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
  • Gallstones
  • Kidney stones
  • Pelvic congestion syndrome, a condition caused by enlarged varicose veins in the pelvis
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition that causes narrowed arteries in the legs and feet
  • Spinal compression fractures
  • Stroke
  • Uterine fibroids, benign tumors that can cause problems with menstruation and other issues for women
  • Vascular malformations
  • Varicoceles, a cluster of enlarged veins in the scrotum that often causes infertility
  • Varicose veins

Additionally, IR is changing the landscape of cancer care. Interventional oncology provides targeted cancer treatments and tumor removal for:

  • Bone cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Prostate cancer

Interventional oncology is often used in parallel with other cancer treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy. It can be especially useful in cases where traditional surgery is not an option for patients. 

Leading-Edge Techniques in Interventional Radiology

Interventional radiologists perform a variety of minimally invasive image-guided procedures, including:

  • Angiography, an X-ray with contrast that can reveal blockages in blood vessels
  • Aneurysm embolization
  • Aortic aneurysm endograft repair, a procedure in which providers insert a stent to prevent an aortic aneurysm from rupturing
  • Balloon angioplasty, a procedure in which a physician threads a small balloon to open vascular blockages and is often used to treat PAD
  • Image-guided biopsies
  • Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty, two procedures that treat vertebral compression fractures
  • Pelvic embolization
  • Percutaneous AV fistula creation, an outpatient option for patients with kidney disease who need a dialysis access fistula
  • Prostatic artery embolization (PAE), a procedure limiting blood flow to an enlarged prostate
  • Stent placement to open blocked blood vessels
  • Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), an alternative to hysterectomy that blocks blood supply to fibroids, causing them to shrink 
  • Varicocele embolization, a procedure that shuts off blood supply to a varicocele

Interventional oncology also uses several IR procedures, including:

  • Chemoembolization and radioembolization, procedures that combine embolization with chemotherapy or radiation to treat tumors in the liver
  • Cryoablation, which freezes and kills cancerous tissue
  • Microwave ablation (MWA), a procedure in which a microwave ablation antenna delivers microwave pulses to kill cancer cells
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA), a procedure that kills tumor cells using heat from radiofrequency energy

Read More: Vascular Embolization: One Patient’s Lifesaving Procedure

Revolutionizing Patient Care

Interventional radiology treatment approaches offer many benefits for patients, including improved diagnostic accuracy and treatment precision. Smaller incisions typically produce results such as less pain and faster recovery times. Additionally, many of these procedures can be done on an outpatient basis, which means patients can go home the same day and avoid the additional costs of a hospital stay.

Benefits of IR for physicians include caring for a patient in a more manageable setting, ease of scheduling, efficiency of procedures and reduced cost, thus revolutionizing the way care is delivered for patients.

Future Trends and Innovation

The field of interventional radiology has come a long way since its origins in the 1960s. In just the past 20 years, advances in technology have made possible new and improved diagnostic imaging, procedures and techniques. Continuing research will lead to even more novel IR procedures in the next decade and beyond, which means even more patients will benefit from these leading-edge, minimally invasive treatments. The Vascular & and Interventional Specialists at Charlotte Radiology will continue to be at the front line of providing these services to patients in the Carolinas.

Learn more about interventional radiology at Vascular & Interventional Specialists.