Interventional or vascular radiology is a specialized field in medicine that focuses on the use of imaging equipment to guide medical procedures and the use of minimally invasive approaches to treatments. There are several medical conditions that can be treated with an interventional radiology approach.
When blood clots are diagnosed early, it is possible to prevent or reverse some of their effects. For example, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) not only causes local problems, such as pain and warmth in the legs, but the clots can also eventually break free and travel to other areas of the body. When the clot is identified early, clot dissolving medications may be administered directly into the clot to clear the blockage and prevent the clot from dislodging. When a clot cannot be successfully removed from the lower extremities or when a patient is at significant risk for clots forming, a vena cava filter can be inserted to prevent clots from travelling to the heart or lungs. The device is shaped like the skeleton of an umbrella, which allows blood to pass through the device freely, while larger particles are trapped.
Cancer is a complex disease, and the treatment is no different. Some techniques in interventional radiology allow for more precise cancer treatments, which can reduce some of the side effects associated with chemotherapy. One such technique involves the injection of chemotherapeutic agents directly into cancerous tumors. This may help shrink some tumors in an effort to remove them surgically or may be used in palliative treatment. Another advantage of direct administration of chemotherapeutic agents it its ability to reduce or eliminate the blood supply of cancerous tumors. Some tumors may "steal" a blood supply to nourish itself, depriving the patient of nutrients. Radiofrequency ablation is another method used by interventional radiologists to help destroy cancerous tumors.
Although hemorrhaging can cause death if it is not controlled quickly, even small injuries can cause significant problems if blood loss occurs in small amounts over an extended period. Interventional radiology procedures can prevent a significant operation to repair smaller injuries to major blood vessels. For example, a small puncture in an artery can possibly resolve on its own or may slowly bleed over several hours or days. Instead of increasing the risk of infection or adding the risks associated with general anesthesia when the situation is not immediately life-threatening, an interventional radiologist may inject a special foam or other material into the punctured area, stopping the bleeding.
Interventional radiology uses numerous techniques to manage or cure common medical conditions. With a minimally invasive approach, there is a reduction in risks commonly associated with surgical alternatives or systemic treatments for the same condition. For more information, talk to doctors at the DeSoto Memorial Hospital.