Whether you need a disease diagnosed, a condition treated, or a traumatic injury repaired, surgical solutions can keep you out of work and life for weeks. Minimally invasive options, using a small tube called a catheter, can provide the same benefits with better recovery time and fewer complications.
A lot of people are very confused about interventional radiology. While interventional radiologists don’t consider themselves surgeons; we, as specialists, offer a lot of minimally invasive therapies as alternatives for conditions previously only treated through open surgery. In fact, there’s a long list of potential procedures and treatments interventional radiologists offer.
Doing It All
Interventional radiologists (IR) are endovascular specialists- we repair blood vessels. When individuals have varicose veins or peripheral artery disease —damage to the blood vessels in the legs—which can cause non-healing ulcers, interventional radiologists provide diagnoses and treatment to fix those vessels. Being a vascular specialist allows us to use the arteries and veins of the body like a highway; we can access almost any place within the body and provide treatment to places otherwise difficult to reach. We use ultrasound, computed tomography [CT], and fluoroscopy [X-ray] to guide our wires and catheters.
Another common procedure an IR performs is a biopsy. Historically, the only way to sample potentially cancerous tissue was through surgery. Today, almost all biopsies are performed using a needle guided by imaging.
Our broad training and expertise allows us to interface with almost all specialties in the hospital, which makes us unique. I get consults from the gastroenterologist, obstetrician, and family doctor with a wide variety of requests. In addition to scheduled procedures, interventional radiologists are an important part of the trauma team at Portneuf. When a patient comes in with active internal bleeding, we get called to assist in stopping the bleeding.
Some conditions or treatments that interventional radiologists handle include:
- Leg pain, including varicose and spider veins
- Osteoporosis and back pain
- Dialysis fistula evaluation
- Liver disease
- Blood clots in the legs and lungs
- Uterine fibroids
- Aortic aneurysms
Intent on Imaging
At PMC, two rooms with this specialized equipment are used—a dedicated hybrid operating room that has the technology and imaging for use by both vascular surgeons and interventional radiologists, as well as a dedicated room for IR. The dedicated room has a brand new biplane imaging unit that allows us to project where we are within the body in new ways not previously possible. We can place balloons, stents, and drains with the lowest amount of radiation possible.
Another important part of interventional radiology is dedicated staff. IR is a team effort. Under the physicians’ direction, our interventional nurses and technologists work as a team with the equipment on a regular basis. We don’t pull them in from other departments—they only work in interventional radiology, so they are experienced at performing at high levels of safety and efficiency.
Ask your physician if a referral to an interventional radiologist at Portneuf is right for you.