If you have cancer, blocked arteries or veins, fibroids, back pain or thyroid disorders you may be diagnosed or treated with interventional radiology — a medical specialty that uses X-rays, MRIs, CT scanners and other imaging technology. Many conditions that used to require surgery are now treated by interventional radiologists, who insert catheters and other small tools into the body through small incisions. The physicians use imaging technology to guide the instruments.
Interventional radiology is less invasive, making recovery easier and faster than traditional surgery. Most patients who receive this type of treatment in a hospital can go home the same day.
In March, Fauquier Hospital debuted a new state-of-the-art interventional radiology suite that is giving physicians the ability to perform procedures using even more intricate, detailed information. The new suite is equipped with full body fluoroscopy imaging technology. Fluoroscopy is a type of medical imaging that shows a continuous X-ray image on a monitor, much like an X-ray movie. It is used to diagnose or treat patients by displaying the movement of a body part or of an instrument or dye (contrast agent) through the body.
During a fluoroscopy procedure, an X-ray beam is passed through the body. The image is transmitted to a monitor so that the body part and its motion can be seen in detail.
Dr. Adam Winick, interventional radiologist at Fauquier Hospital, said, “The new software and hardware moves faster, provides clearer images and uses less radiation to do it. Anything that makes it easier and faster for me to perform a procedure, that’s better for patients.”
The new imaging equipment allows physicians to use CT scan and X-ray images for guidance, from the same table. Fluoroscopy images are dynamic, moving images that allow physicians to calculate the depth of a needle insertion and how to move instruments in the body. Dr. Winick explained, “The new equipment is more accurate and the images are sharper. There are many different procedures – complex cancer treatment procedures, arterial and venous studies to improve flow, procedures in the digestive tract, fixing fractures in the back – that we can perform because of the increased detail provided by the state-of-the-art imaging equipment .”
Interventional Radiology Procedures
Interventional radiologists use various imaging techniques to perform the following procedures.
- Destroying cancerous tumors by heat or freezing techniques
- Blocking blood vessels to cut off blood to a tumor or arrest a hemorrhage
- Dissolving blood clots to treat or prevent stroke or deep-vein thrombosis
- Clearing a carotid artery and installing a stent to prevent stroke
- Placing a feeding tube into the stomach of a person who is not able to eat
- Inserting a small needle into the breast or other tissue to obtain tissue for a biopsy to diagnose cancer
- Directing a catheter into a vein to provide nutrition or hemodialysis
- Delivering anticancer medications directly to a tumor