Interventional Radiology

What is Interventional Radiology?

Interventional radiology (IR) is medical specialty that focuses on minimally invasive procedures that use imaging guidance to diagnose and treat medical conditions. It involves the use of imaging technologies such as X-rays, ultrasound and CT scans to guide tiny instruments, such as catheters, needles, balloons and stents through blood vessels or other pathways of the body.

Interventional Radiology services include:

  • Drain Exchange
  • Drain Removal
  • Kyphoplasty
  • Phlebectomy
  • Port Placement
  • Sacroplasty
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Thyroid Biopsy
  • Uterine Artery Embolization
  • Varicose Vein
  • Vertebroplasty

Interventional radiologists are highly trained medical doctors that are experts both in medical imaging and in performing these minimally invasive procedures. In fact, IR doctors are board certified in two medical specialties: Radiology and Interventional Radiology. They use their expertise to perform procedures with small incisions in the skin, which can reduce the risk of complications, minimize pain and shorten recovery times. IR plays an important role in modern medicine, offering patients safe, effective and minimally invasive options for diagnosis and treatment.

  • Common Interventional Radiology Procedures

    Common Interventional Radiology Procedures

    Interventional radiology (IR) encompasses a wide range of procedures, each of which is designed to diagnose or treat a specific medical condition. Some of the most common IR procedures include:

    • Angiography: Uses X-rays and contrast dye to image the blood vessels and diagnose conditions such as aneurysms, stenoses or blockages
    • Embolization: Uses tiny particles or coils to block blood vessels and treat conditions such as uterine fibroids, enlarged prostate glands, tumors, areas of painful inflammation, aneurysms or abnormal blood vessels and bleeding.
    • Portacatheter Placement: Insertion of a portacatheter to establish easy and reliable access to the veins.  These devices are used to administer chemotherapy or other infusions and can also be used to draw blood for labs.
    • Biopsy: Uses imaging guidance to obtain a small sample of tissue for diagnosis of cancer or other conditions
    • Drainage: Uses imaging guidance to place a tube or needle into a fluid-filled area of the body, such as a cyst or abscess, to drain it
    • Ablation: Uses heat or cold based technology to destroy tumors or other abnormal tissue
    • Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty: Use bone cement to stabilize and repair spinal fractures

    These are just a few examples of interventional radiology’s safe and effective alternatives to traditional surgical approaches. Each procedure is tailored to the specific needs of the patient and the condition being treated.

  • Advantages of Interventional Radiology

    Advantages of Interventional Radiology

    Interventional radiology (IR) offers several advantages over traditional surgical approaches. Some of the key advantages of IR include:

    Minimally invasive: IR procedures are typically minimally invasive, which means they require only a small incision or puncture rather than a large surgical incision. This leads to less tissue damage, reduced pain and faster recovery times.  

    Precise and accurate: IR procedures are guided by medical imaging to provide real-time guidance even deep inside of the body. This allows interventional radiologists to perform procedures with greater precision and accuracy, reducing the risk of complications and improving outcomes.

    Reduced risk of complications: Because IR procedures are minimally invasive, they carry a lower risk of complications such as bleeding, infection and damage to surrounding tissue.

    Outpatient procedures: Many IR procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis, which means patients can go home the same day and avoid lengthy hospital stays.

    Alternative to surgery: IR procedures can often provide an effective alternative to traditional surgery, particularly for patients who are not good candidates for surgery due to age, underlying medical conditions or other factors.

    Faster recovery times: Because IR procedures are minimally invasive, patients can often return to their normal activities more quickly than with traditional surgery. 

  • Who Are Interventional Radiologists?

    Who Are Interventional Radiologists?

    Interventional radiologists are medical doctors who specialize in performing minimally invasive procedures that use imaging technologies to diagnose and treat various medical conditions. They are highly trained in the use of X-rays, CT scans, MRI, and ultrasound to guide procedures with precision and accuracy.

    To become an interventional radiologist, a doctor must complete college, then medical school and a residency and fellowship in Interventional Radiology.  Fully trained IR doctors are board certified in both Diagnostic Radiology and Interventional Radiology.

    Interventional radiologists work closely with other healthcare professionals, including primary care physicians, surgeons, oncologists, OB-gyns, urologists, orthopedic surgeons and other specialists, to provide comprehensive care for patients. 

  • Vertebroplasty and Sacroplasty

    Vertebroplasty and Sacroplasty

    Kyphoplasty, vertebroplasty and sacroplasty are all minimally invasive procedures for treating fractures in the spine and the sacrum. All three methods aim to stabilize the fractured bone and alleviate pain, but they differ slightly in their approach.

    Vertebroplasty is a less complex procedure than kyphoplasty and involves directly injecting bone cement into the fractured vertebra without using a balloon or any cavity creation. The cement is injected under continuous fluoroscopic guidance to ensure accurate placement. 
    As the cement hardens, it stabilizes the fractured vertebra, provides support, and helps to relieve pain. However, vertebroplasty does not restore the lost vertebral height or correct spinal deformity as effectively as kyphoplasty.

    The choice between kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty depends on the specific characteristics of the fracture and the patient's condition.

    Sacroplasty is similar to vertebroplasty but targets fractures of the sacrum which is located at the back of the pelvis between the hips. 


Patient Education

DRI Greensboro Imaging is committed to providing you with quality care, which includes providing accurate information and educational materials to help you understand and make informed decisions about your health. Download the Interventional Radiology brochure, which describes DRI Greensboro Imaging’s interventional radiology services.

Patient Experiences

Every day, DRI Greensboro strives to ensure patients have the best possible experience before, during and after their exams and procedures. It shows in patient feedback.

This is a team, and when you walk in, you know that you are working with a team that understands what is happening to you and is here to support you. There is nothing awful, frightening or scary about this, because it is a place that is affirmative, it is supportive and it is a place of peace.
—Whitney V.

Submit a story about your experience at DRI Greensboro.

Resources & Forms

Below are some medical forms and educational materials relating to your imaging procedure. Before your appointment at DRI Greensboro, you may wish to download, print and complete medical forms and review educational materials. Completing medical forms in the privacy of your home can save you time and effort when you arrive. 

Patients scheduled for an interventional radiology procedure can find additional resources, including other photos and videos. Additional information is available from the Society of Interventional Radiology.

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