What is Interventional Radiology and What Does it Treat

July 15, 2012 0 Comments

Interventional radiology is a specialized sector, or sub-specialty, of traditional radiology that is rapidly growing in favor among both medical professionals and patients. Why? Because it is far less invasive; recovery time is speedier; several of the risks of traditional operations are reduced; and there is typically less pain involved with interventional radiology, not to mention fewer, less visible scars left from much smaller incisions.

Using catheters and needles, and guiding the procedure through imaging technologies–such as x-rays, MRI, CT scans, as well as ultrasound–interventional radiologists are able to achieve results with much less injury.

What is treated with interventional radiology?

One of the most amazing facts about interventional radiology is that it can treat diseases in nearly every single component and organ of the body.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the conditions interventional radiology can address.

1. Vascular Disorders

Painful varicose veins can be heated and sealed internally with great results and minimal pain using interventional radiology. Conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (the pooling, collection and clotting of blood in the lower legs causing pain and swelling); pulmonary embolism (the blocking off or occlusion of the lung’s main arteries due to blood clots traveling from elsewhere in the body); as well as peripheral artery disease (the lack of proper blood flow in the arms, legs and other extremities that, like DVT, may cause swelling, pain and ulcer on the skin) can all be treated by interventional radiology.

These are not the only vascular related illnesses this minimally invasive specialty can treat, but they are among the most common.

2. Cancer

Interventional radiology is proving to be a strong tool against the battle of several types of cancers. There are myriad radiological approaches–some stopping the blood supply to tumors, essentially starving them, and others attacking the cancerous tissues themselves–but each treatment will vary depending on several factors. As we know, cancers are extremely specific to the patient and differ greatly, requiring a range of treatments. Tumor size, the progression of the cancer, your doctor’s experience and other factors will determine your ideal treatment.

A few of the cancers that can be fought using interventional radiology include: kidney cancer; breast and prostate cancers; liver and lung cancers; as well as bone cancer.

3. Neurological Disorders

Interventional radiology can be used to treat a range of neurological disorders (such as blocked blood vessels that have or already have contributed to a stroke). It is even being used in very preliminary stages as a possible treatment for multiple sclerosis.

4. Women’s Health

More and more we’re seeing interventional radiology used to treat women’s health problems, such as uterine fibroids, pelvic congestion syndrome and infertility. This isn’t to say that this minimally invasive treatment can correct or reverse infertility, but it is being used when infertility is caused by some sort of narrowing, blockage or congestion of the fallopian tubes.

Interventional radiology is a very specialized medicine, and as such, you will likely need to be referred by your general, primary doctor. But if you have a disorder that may be helped by interventional radiology, as opposed to a traditional procedure, you can look forward to a less invasive, painful and time consuming experience.

Interventional radiology can treat an array of conditions, from cancer and vascular diseases to women’s helth problems.

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