The role of radiologists (physicians who specialize in diagnostic imaging) has evolved as technology has become more sophisticated. “Interventional” radiologists have the advanced training to “intervene,” or participate, in medical procedures. Bridgeport Hospital has been among the first hospitals in Connecticut to introduce many interventional radiology procedures. These procedures, which are an alternative to radical surgery for many patients, include:
Carotid stenting – Carotid stents are metal mesh tubes placed in the carotid arteries of the neck after the arteries have been unblocked so blood can flow to the brain. The stents hold the arteries open to maintain healthy blood flow. This can prevent strokes and related nervous system damage.
Core Needle Biopsy – When a biopsy is recommended after an abnormal finding on an imaging test, patients may be able to choose this minimally invasive alternative to surgery. Image-guided biopsy does not require surgery. The needle biopsy can be performed using ultrasound, CAT scan, or stereotactic guidance. Stereotactic refers to the use of stereo images—pictures of the breast taken from different angles—to determine the precise location of the abnormal tissue. After giving a local anesthetic, the radiologist makes a small opening in the skin. A sterile biopsy needle is placed into the abnormal tissue. Computerized pictures help confirm the exact needle placement using digital imaging. Tissue samples are then taken through the needle.
Endovascular stent grafting – (Endo=within; vascular=blood vessel) To treat an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)—a dangerous bulge in the aorta, the body’s largest artery—a fabric and metal mesh tube, called a stent, is placed within the aorta. The stent reinforces the aorta and prevents it from rupturing.
Percutaneous Vertebroplasty – (Per=through; cutaneous=skin; Verterbro=vertebra; plasty=shaping) This procedure is used to treat spinal fractures. Treatment involves injecting an epoxy cement into fractured vertebrae. The epoxy becomes rock-hard within minutes, yet is light and supportive. The procedure uses a local anesthetic, and the patient is able to walk around within a day. The vertebrae must be treated soon after the fracture and before it is has completely collapsed.
Radiation Medicine – X-rays administered in high doses can destroy cancer cells within the body. To perform this procedure, Bridgeport Hospital has one of the most advanced linear accelerators in the nation. Using sophisticated computer guidance, the linear accelerator delivers powerful X-rays with extreme precision, targeting the cancer cells with minimal effect on surrounding healthy tissue. Radiation oncologists (radiologists specializing in the treatment of cancer) also participate in radioactive “seed” implants —the precise placement of tiny pellets to destroy tumors, again with minimal effect on surrounding healthy tissue.
Uterine fibroid embolization – Known medically as Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE), this procedure is a new approach to the treatment of uterine fibroids, non-cancerous growths in the muscular wall of the uterus. This minimally invasive procedure requires only a tiny nick in the skin and is performed while the patient is sedated but still conscious. UAE blocks the arteries supplying blood to the fibroids. As a result of the restricted blood flow, the growths shrink.