What is Interventional Radiology?
Interventional radiology, also known as imaging therapy, is a subspecialty of radiology that focuses primarily on the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of diseases through the use of minimally invasive techniques.
Mainly, interventional radiology uses diagnostic imaging techniques, i.e. minimally invasive techniques that do not harm nearby structures and tissues. Diagnostic and treatment procedures are performed with the following:
- X-rays – radiography
- Computed tomography (CT)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Interventional radiology can intervene in the following regions:
- Central nervous system: the brain and spine
- Thorax: lungs and airways
- Abdomen: intestine, kidneys, liver and stomach
- Musculoskeletal system: bones, muscles, joints and spinal column.
- Circulatory system (arteries, veins and heart)
- Urogenital system
- Others: organ and tissue sampling
Interventional radiology procedures are usually performed under sedation, without the need for general anesthesia, without incisions, with a short hospital stay and a simple postoperative period.
Magnetic resonance imaging is one of the imaging methods used in interventional radiology.
Why is interventional radiology performed?
Radiology is used to correct various pathologies in almost all parts of the body thanks to the use of imaging.
Some of the procedures that can be performed are the following:
- Stent placement
- Central venous access
- Blood clots
- Needle biopsy
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Artery embolization
- Embolization of myomas
- Drainage and abscesses
Interventional radiology is also used to treat and diagnose cancer.
What does interventional radiology consist of?
With the help of a guide with a diameter of approximately one to two millimeters, catheters are introduced into the blood vessels or some veins to guide them to the area to be treated.
Through the use of images obtained by X-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography or resonance imaging, a catheter or needle is directed to the desired area and treatment is started from there.
Preparation for interventional radiology
No special preparation is required for an interventional radiology procedure. The specialist must know the patient’s background and medical history, as well as have a good diagnosis and the certainty that the procedure is appropriate and will achieve the proposed objectives before carrying out or initiating the process.
One of the main advantages of interventional radiology is that it is a minimally invasive procedure that does little damage to the structures and tissues surrounding the problem or disease. As it is a minimally invasive procedure, scarring and its possible complications are avoided, as well as postoperative pain.
Normally, the patient will return home the same day of the intervention. It should be noted that interventions with interventional radiology are performed under sedation or local anesthesia, never under general anesthesia.