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Interventional Radiology (IR)

1. What is interventional radiology?

Interventional radiology is a special area of radiology that uses imaging to guide minimally invasive procedures. Some of these procedures are done for purely diagnostic purposes, while others are done for treatment purposes.  The doctor performing the procedure is able to view the inside of your body on a screen, which allows the doctor to see where to direct the instruments that are being inserted.  This provides a roadmap to guide your doctor to the area of interest.

2. Why is it done?

IR procedures are done for a wide variety of reasons. Listed below are some common IR procedures.

  • Angiography: Uses imaging to look for abnormalities in your blood vessels.
  • Balloon angioplasty/stent: Uses a balloon or metal stints to open blocked or narrowed blood vessels.
  • Chemoembolization: Allows for the delivery of cancer treatment directly to the tumor.
  • Drain insertions: Uses tubes to drain fluid from certain parts of the body.
  • Embolization: Allows for the obstruction of a blood vessel or organ for various reasons.
  • Thrombolysis: Uses medicine and other means to dissolve blood clots.
  • Biopsy: Allows for a sample of tissue to be taken from your body so it can be examined for cancer.
  • Line insertion:  Allows for the access and management of specialized devices that have been placed in the veins for various reasons.
  • IVC filters:  Uses metallic filters that are placed in the large vein that carries blood from the lower part of the body to the heart to prevent blood clots.
  • Vertebroplasty: Allows for special bone cement to be placed in fractured vertebrae.
  • Nephrostomy placement:  Allows for a catheter to be placed directly into the kidney to drain urine when the normal flow of urine has been obstructed.
  • Dialysis access and related intervention:  Allows for the clearing of toxins from the blood of patients with kidney failure by placing special catheters and also helps repair poorly functioning dialysis access sites.
  • TIPS:  Uses a special shunt for the management of select patients with critical end-stage liver disease and elevated blood pressure in the portal vein.
  • Biliary intervention:  Placement of catheters in long tube like structures that carry bile to the liver to bypass obstructions.

3. What are the benefits vs. risks?

These procedures are generally less costly and less traumatic to the patient than surgery, and involve smaller incisions, shorter (or no) hospital stays and less pain.

Risks are usually low due to the minimally invasive nature of most IR exams.  Risks vary based on the type of procedure you are undergoing.  Please discuss the specific benefits and risks for the type of procedure you are undergoing with your doctor.

4. How should I prepare?

You will receive specific instructions based on the type of procedure you are undergoing. 

Some procedures require little or no prep or recovery while others require that you have no food or drink for several hours and may require that you stay several hours after the procedure for monitoring. 

If you are pregnant or think you could be pregnant be sure to tell your doctor or technologist.
You should inform your doctor and the technologist performing your exam of any medications you are taking, including vitamins and herbal supplements, and also inform them if you have any allergies and about recent illnesses or other medical conditions.

5. What should I expect?

Most procedures are done in a lab that looks similar to a surgery room.  Most patients will be sedated, however, some procedures do not require any sedation. For more specific information about your procedure please talk to your doctor.

6. Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

One of our specially trained doctors will perform the exam, interpret the images, and forward a report to your referring physician. Your doctor will discuss the results with you and recommend any further actions.


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 Washington Regional
 3215 N. North Hills Blvd.
 Fayetteville, AR 72703
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