Interventional radiology has proven its efficiency in treating many medical conditions. It offers minimally invasive, image-guided treatments for many diseases and has shown to be less risky and less painful, in addition to faster recovery than open surgery.
Advancements in this field have opened broad horizons for doctors and interventional radiology specialists to direct catheters and assist in performing procedures with extreme precision, with the least possible complications. This is done using minimally invasive techniques as much as possible, with small incisions when needed. The result is a minimally invasive medical intervention for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures with little pain, safety, and efficiency.
Interventional radiology provides astounding benefits. It can be used to determine if a patient requires surgery, eliminating the need for exploratory surgery. This radiology is used to guide catheters or other tools inside the body to complete a medical procedure precisely without the need for surgery or removal of the affected part. Interventional radiology excels in effectiveness thanks to its high-resolution imaging techniques, which enhance diagnostic accuracy and improve treatment outcomes. Compared to traditional surgery, it results in less blood loss and a reduced risk of infection. People at higher anesthesia risk-benefit as only local or moderate anesthesia is used.
Furthermore, the patient doesn’t need to stay in the hospital and can return home the same day the treatment is received. The pain is less because interventional radiology procedures are performed through small incisions and don’t require stitches or large bandages. Rapid recovery is one of the most notable features of interventional radiology due to the minimally invasive nature of the procedures.
Patients can generally return to daily life faster than they might after traditional surgery.
Diseases Treated by Interventional Radiology
Interventional radiology contributes to treating various diseases in different parts of the body. Interventional radiological procedures are divided into vascular (related to blood vessels) and non-vascular (related to organs outside the blood vessels). Vascular interventions are also divided into neurovascular interventions (related to brain vessels) and peripheral vascular interventions (related to vessels of organs outside the brain).
Some of the diseases that can be treated by interventional radiology include:
Interventional radiology is used in the treatment of vascular diseases such as treating varicose veins, peripheral artery disease, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, abdominal aortic aneurysms, thoracic aortic aneurysms, aortic dissection, acute mesenteric ischemia, visceral artery aneurysms, in addition to arteriovenous malformation.
Interventional radiology offers cancer patients the opportunity to eliminate tumors without surgery. Cancers that can be treated with interventional radiology include liver, lung, kidney, bone, breast, and prostate cancers. Interventional radiology is used to treat a range of malignant and benign tumors, such as liver tumors, and is used in treating some secondary tumors in the liver and lungs and other benign tumors in the body, such as uterine fibroids and some bone tumors.
Liver tumors that can’t be treated surgically can be treated by injecting through the arteries that feed the tumor with a catheter through a skinny tube introduced under local anesthesia inside the femoral artery. Under radiology, it is directed to the main liver artery, after which a chemical is injected through the catheter that reaches the tumor and eliminates it. Currently, it’s possible to inject tiny radioactive chemical particles into the tumor periodically, killing the cancer cells without harming the liver tissue.
Interventional radiology treatment is safer than surgery, where the medical condition is diagnosed and treated through medical imaging. A temporary balloon is inserted into the coronary artery, then inflated to widen the artery’s passage. Afterward, a metallic stent is inserted to keep the narrowed spot open to prevent it from re-checking. This procedure is standard worldwide today.
Injecting uterine fibroids with a catheter is one of the latest non-surgical methods. The feeding arteries of the fibroids in the uterus are closed, leading to their shrinkage and the disappearance of symptoms. One of the advantages of this technique is that the patient does not undergo general anesthesia; local anesthesia, similar to cardiac catheterization, suffices. The patient doesn’t need to stay in the hospital for an extended period, only one day is enough, with some painkillers, and she can gradually return to her everyday life.
Interventional radiology assists in treating medical conditions related to the kidneys, such as renal artery stenosis, removal of renal sympathetic nerves, and other diseases, including gastric varices, testicular varices, and infertility in men.
Catheterization of the prostate arteries is done under the influence of local anesthesia by injecting very fine particles to close the arteries feeding the enlargement. This leads to the shrinkage of the prostate size without affecting its function. This technique has proven highly effective in avoiding complications such as urinary incontinence and semen reflux.
Varicose Veins in the Legs
A medical catheter is directed inside the vein using ultrasound guidance. Then, the vein causing the varicose veins is closed from the inside using either laser or radiofrequency within half an hour.
Types of Interventional Radiology
There are many types of interventional radiology used in the treatment of various medical conditions, including:
Computed Tomography (CT) Imaging: X-rays are used to produce three-dimensional images. Doctors resort to this type of interventional radiology to diagnose tumors, bone deformities, neurological, cardiac, and pulmonary diseases.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A type of medical imaging that uses a magnetic field to produce three-dimensional body images. It is used to diagnose tumors, neurological diseases, joints, and blood vessels.
Ultrasound (US): Produces images of tissues and organs. It diagnoses neurological diseases, muscle-related issues, and fetal abnormalities.
Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT): A technique that utilizes lasers to destroy tumors and disease-infected cells. It’s applied for treating cancerous tumors, benign tumors, neurological disorders, and eye diseases.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): A technique that employs electrical waves to alleviate pain and improve blood circulation. It treats neurological diseases, muscle issues, and fetal deformities.
The treating physician selects the appropriate medical procedure for the patient’s condition to achieve the desired result. Given the proven ability of these modern techniques to treat benign and malignant tumors without surgical intervention, they often have a high success rate.