Interventional Radiology

What is Interventional Radiology?

Radiology is a specialization where doctors use imaging to detect, diagnose, treat, and perform procedures inside the body. The process is carried out by qualified radiologists who interpret the images, detect possible illnesses, and offer mediation services.  A radiologist is a doctor who has completed four years of medical school to become a doctor, then another four years’ residency to qualify as a diagnostic radiologist, and a further two years’ fellowship in interventional radiology. The radiologist may perform several imaging techniques to analyze organs in motion. Radiology is divided into interventional radiology and diagnostic radiology.

Diagnostic radiology

Diagnostic radiology uses imaging to detect problems in the body. The radiology screens for possible issues such as cancer after a patient displays related symptoms. Other times, the screening makes sure there are no underlying problems in the body. Diagnostic radiology may include;

  • Mammography
  • Computed tomography
  • MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) and MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) 
  • Thallium cardiac stress test, bone, and thyroid
  • scan
  • Chest x-rays
  • Ultrasound
  • Pet scan, PET Imaging, and PET- CT


Interventional Radiology

When you feel pain or are generally unwell and visit a doctor for consultation, he may suggest diagnostic radiology on suspected problem areas to diagnose the problem. If any issue is detected, you may undergo interventional radiology.  Interventional radiology helps or guides doctors through procedures in the body.  Interventional radiologists use MRIs, CT scans, and fluoroscopy to detect and treat body organs’ conditions.

The radiologist can treat specific areas without surgery or interfering with other body parts through this radiology procedure. Diagnostic radiology detects issues, and then interventional radiology offers further analysis of the particular problem areas and a treatment. For instance, if doctors notice tumors during diagnostic radiology, they may have to carry out a biopsy to analyze the tumors’ condition or check whether they are malignant through interventional radiology.

Conventional treatment plans expose the whole body to the medication meant for specific organs. This may cause grievous side effects, damage to healthy cells, and longer recovery times.

What are the Benefits of Interventional Radiology?

Interventional radiology allows doctors to have a good look and analyze the specific area that needs treatment. It offers quick access to the problem areas without the need for open surgery through the insertion of catheters, needles, or wires into the body to reach the treatment area.

The procedure is less intrusive; only a small cut is made to allow the catheter or tube to pass through to the treatment organ. This means that you don’t need to go through open surgery.

It takes less operation time, is less painful, and doesn’t leave scars on your body. The small incision heals quickly, and you may not need any downtime after the treatment.

It is less costly. Because it takes less time, uses less medication, and may not have to stay at the facility for long, you spend less.

It is also convenient because you don’t have to make major changes to your daily schedule.

Interventional radiology helps doctors analyze cancerous cells, tumors, and other diseases without affecting other body areas. Only the affected areas get the medication when treating cancer, meaning that healthy organs or cells do not get affected. Cancer medications such as chemotherapy and radioactive treatments can damage healthy cells, but the damage is minimal when administered through interventional radiology.

You are less likely to suffer from side effects because the treatment targets a small part of the body. You may not even need to stay in the hospital overnight after the treatment.

You don’t need to be under general anesthesia, but local anesthesia can help you relax during the treatment.

Interventional radiology does not only treat cancer cells and tumors but can also be used when blood vessels are narrowed or blocked to detect and treat problem areas. It can also detect and treat blood clots, kidney, gallstones, and liver problems. It’s also helpful when IV treatments need to go deep into your body to administer medications.

What are the Examples of Interventional Radiology Procedures?   

Thrombosis used to dissolve blood clots in any part of the body 

Embolization -cuts the blood supply to cancerous cells, causing them to die or not to multiply        

Radiofrequency ablation used to reduce nerve pain    

Stenting, which is the treatment of narrowed or weak arteries      

Biopsies which is the study of body tissue

Other procedures carried out by interventional radiologists include

  • Spinal cord embolization
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Selective Internal Radiology Therapy
  • Pleural aspiration
  • Nephrostomy
  • Joint injection
  • Vertebroplasty
  • Varicose Vein ablation
  • Thyroid fine-needle aspiration
  • Biliary drainage
  • Carotid Stenting
  • Carpal Tunnel Ultrasound and
  • Injection
  • Image-guided lumbar nerve root sleeve
  • injection
  • Image-Guided Cervical Nerve Root
  • Sleeve Corticosteroid Injection
  • Inferior Vena Cava Filters
  • Transarterial Chemoembolization (TACE)

The number of procedures carried out by interventional radiologists keeps increasing as medical innovations, including advanced technology, hit the medical field, reducing the cost, time, risk, and pain during a procedure or treatment.