This type of radiology provides minimally invasive image-guided diagnosis and treatment of diseases in every organ or system, using the least invasive techniques available. Compared to open surgery, these procedures produce less pain, reduce the risk of infection and have a shorter recovery and hospital stay time.
Interventional radiology requires the introduction of a catheter – a long, thin, flexible tube – into the body, typically into an artery. The catheter combines the use of medical imaging with diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. These procedures are primarily used to unblock blood vessels – either coronary arteries to prevent heart attacks; carotid arteries to prevent cerebrovascular accidents; or renal arteries to cure secondary hypertension.
Other applications are:
- Image-guided biopsy, which allows for the collection of solid mass samples without the need of more demanding surgical procedures
- Embolization of cerebral aneurysms to prevent potentially catastrophic intra-cerebral bleedings
- Drainage of purulent abscesses that may result from surgical interventions
Interventional radiology is necessarily performed in conjunction with imaging procedures, typically:
- Fluoroscopy, which uses differential X-rays absorption from different tissues to produce cine-like images
- Digital subtraction angiography, which uses computer subtraction of background images to enhance arterial blood-flow
- Ultrasound, based on the same principle as fluoroscopy but taking advanced of using differential reflection of sound waves inside the body instead of X-rays
- Computed tomography , which uses X-rays to create cross-sectional images of the body
- Magnetic resonance imaging , which provides the same results using magnetic fields instead of radiation