Interventional radiology is a relatively new but vital field of medicine in diagnosing and treating various diseases and preventing them at an early stage. In this article, you will discover more about interventional radiology and the treatments offered in the field.
What Is Interventional Radiology?
Interventional radiologists diagnose and treat illnesses. They treat many bodily issues by introducing tiny tools, like catheters or wires, from outside the body; the radiologist is guided by imaging techniques like CT, ultrasound, and X-ray to treat various diseases. In some cases, it eliminates the need for hospitalization.
What Is the Role of Interventional Radiologists?
An interventional radiologist is a medical expert who has completed a 6-year medical training followed by a 4-year radiology training program.An interventional radiologist's core competencies include interpreting diagnostic images, manipulating small catheter tubes and wires, and body navigation under image control. Radiology and interventional therapy specialists are known as interventional radiologists. Interventional radiologists are among the highly trained health professionals, both theoretically and practically.
Interventional radiology has largely impacted patient treatment across the board in hospital care. The number of conditions that can be addressed with interventional radiology is always growing. It is crucial to understand that interventional treatment is frequently one of many accessible options for treatment, ranging from nothing to pharmacological treatment to surgery.
These minimally invasive procedures provide several well-known benefits, such as fewer risks, shorter hospital stays, fewer expenses, more comfort, and quicker return to work. Compared to conventional treatments, therapeutic effectiveness is frequently higher.
What Are the Advantages of Interventional Radiology?
Interventional radiology helps diagnose and treat diseases early. Interventional radiology enables immediate access for your doctor to the area of your body that requires care. It also reduces your risk of experiencing dangerous side effects following medication or surgery.
It is crucial for treating cancer with radioactive particles or chemotherapy, both of which are potent medicines that can harm your healthy body parts when administered throughout your entire body. By using interventional radiology, doctors can administer these treatments directly to tumors rather than the surrounding healthy tissue. Another advantage is that you frequently do not need to spend the night in a hospital during an interventional radiology procedure.
Invasive radiology is not just for cancer patients. Interventional radiology is the therapeutic part of radiology and today it is involved in the treatment of many diseases along with cancer. Interventional radiology can be preferred in many cases such as opening clogged vessels due to blood clot or plaque, widening narrowed vessels, and treating kidney or gallstones. IR is also an effective route of administration for central venous catheters (a central line) placed so that drug therapy can affect deeper tissues and organs.
Invasive radiology treatments have significantly less risks compared to surgical options, so much so that many of the procedures are now exclusively done by radiologists instead of surgeries.
Who Can Receive Treatments Using Interventional Radiology (IR)?
For various reasons, doctors may refer patients to an interventional radiologist. Image-guided therapies are often preferred as part of IR in patients who do not respond to conventional drug or surgical treatment, or for whom conventional treatments are not sufficient. The interventional radiology patient population generally consists of patients with cardiovascular problems or tumors.
Additionally, interventional radiology can be used for treatment in pediatric patients with atherosclerosis or less commonly aneurysms. If pus or fluid accumulates in body cavities or organs, especially in pediatric patients, IR can be used as a safer alternative to open surgery to properly implant drainage tubes. IR is also a safe way to take a biopsy when a mass is detected in the body. (removing small pieces of tissue to examine under the microscope).
What Are the Procedure Involved in Interventional Radiology?
The interventional radiologist may use a CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound to get a clear picture of the area of the body that needs to be treated. A small incision is made in the body and a catheter, wire or needle is inserted into the body. The wire or catheter, which is moved inside the body, is observed from the outside on the screen. Different imaging methods and tools can be used depending on the type of disease and the condition of the patient. Pain relievers or muscle relaxants may be prescribed during imaging or treatment.
Interventional radiology techniques continue to grow as a result of technological developments. Procedures used in the interventional radiology department include
Angiography and Angioplasty
Angiography is a procedure of X-raying the arteries and veins to look for irregularities such as vascular constriction or blockage. Angioplasty is a tiny balloon-tipped where a catheter is inserted into a blood artery by the physician. Then, they blow up the balloon to clear a blockage in the vessel.
Embolization is a catheter-based procedure that stops acute bleeding or tumor vessels by utilizing coils, particles, or adhesives. Tumors need a constant blood flow to grow and spread. If blood flow is cut off, the tumor cannot be fed and eventually shrinks and disappears.
Chemoembolization is similar to the embolization except that it is used to treat tumors with localized, high-dose chemotherapy. Another modified method of embolization is chemoembolization. The interventional radiologist uses chemoembolization to treat cancer.
Thermal energy types such as radiofrequency, microwave, or cryo technology are used in a needle- or catheter-based procedure to treat tumors or varicose veins. Catheter ablation is another name for ablation that is widely used. Ablation involves applying intense heat or cold to the diseased area. Cryoablation refers to freezing radiation, and radiofrequency ablation refers to heat radiation.
Balloon Angioplasty and Stents
Balloon angioplasty and stents are another interventional radiology therapy that uses a long catheter with balloon ends to clear plaque from the afflicted area. Techniques to unblock a tube, such as an artery, vein, bile duct, ureter, colon, or esophagus, using balloons and stents, are carried out in the cardiac catheterization lab or Cath (catheterization) lab. Balloons and stents are the most effective tools for treating coronary artery disease, or CAD. Typically, medications are unable to treat CAD. Thus, the procedure using balloons and stents is most effective for CAD.
Needle biopsy is a core biopsy for pathological sampling or to drain thoracoabdominal collections and abscesses. A needle biopsy is one of the most efficient methods for removing cells or tissues from the body for laboratory analysis. Standard needle biopsies typically fall into one of two categories:
- Core needle biopsy: A core needle biopsy uses a long, hollow tube to obtain a tissue sample. The resulting blood or tissue sample is analyzed in the laboratory. It is a frequently used method to diagnose suspicious tissues.
- Fine-needle aspiration: In fine-needle aspiration, a type of biopsy, a fine needle is inserted into the area of abnormal tissue or body fluid and a sample is taken. The sample is examined to diagnose and rule out malignancy. It is generally a safe procedure and complications are rare.
As an institution affiliated to the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Türkiye, USHAŞ, as part of its initiatives to assist medical tourism, operates under the name of HealthTürkiye service in many health fields, including interventional radiography, with its expert staff and health institutions with advanced technology. It aims to bring together private and public studies on health tourism and to guide guests from abroad to receive health services.
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