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.
These procedures include:
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, CT 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
This procedure is used to treat an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a dangerous bulge in the aorta. A fabric and metal mesh tube called a stent is placed within the aorta. The stent reinforces the aorta and prevents it from rupturing.
This procedure is used to treat spinal fractures. Treatment involves injecting an epoxy cement, glue-like substance, into fractured vertebrae. The epoxy becomes rock-hard within minutes, yet is light and supportive. The procedure uses a local anesthetic The vertebrae must be treated soon after the fracture.
X-rays administered in high doses can destroy cancer cells within the body. A computer guided linear accelerator delivers powerful X-rays with extreme precision, targeting the cancer cells with minimal effect on surrounding healthy tissue. Radiation oncologists 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
Uterine Fibroid Embolization is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat uterine fibroids, non-cancerous growths in the muscular wall of the uterus. This procedure 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.