Interventional radiology (IR) is a group of techniques where medical images, such as x-ray fluoroscopy, computed tomography, or ultrasound, are used to precisely guide medical therapies to the internal structures of the body through very small incisions or body orifices. IR is broadly classified into two main types of procedures: diagnostic and therapeutic.
Diagnostic techniques use medical imaging to either precisely guide biopsy of an abnormality, such as a cancerous tumor, or inject a radiopaque agent to visualize a hollow structure, such as a blood vessel or a duct. Examples of diagnostic procedures include angiograms and lung biopsy.
Therapeutic techniques precisely guide therapies, such as stents or clotting agents, to an abnormality. Examples of therapeutic procedures include fistuloplasty, femoral angioplasty, or embolization.
The main benefit of interventional radiology techniques is that they can reach the deep structures of the body through a body orifice or tiny incision using small needles and wires which decreases risks, pain, and recovery time when compared to open procedures. Real-time visualization allows precision guidance to an abnormality, making the procedure or diagnosis more accurate.
How to prepare:
Instructions to prepare for an interventional procedure will be provided to the patient by mail. Your preparation depends on the type of procedure you are having.
What to expect before the procedure:
The time you arrive at the hospital depends on the type of procedure you are having. This information will be included in your appointment letter.
Before less invasive procedures:
Arrive 30 minutes before the procedure.
You will be registered and asked to change into a hospital gown.
A nurse, technologist, and the Interventional Radiologist (the IR Team) will discuss the procedure with you. They will ask for your consent for the procedure.
Before invasive procedures:
Arrive two hours before the procedure. You will be admitted to the hospital.
You will change into a hospital gown and lie on a stretcher. An Intravenous line will be started, vital signs will be recorded, and a brief history will be obtained.
You will be transported by stretcher to the Interventional Radiology room. When you arrive, the IR Team will discuss the procedure with you. They will ask for your consent for the procedure.
What to expect during the procedure:
- You will lie on the interventional procedure table.
- A large C-shaped camera will move around you as it takes x-ray images.
- You will feel the table moving.
- You will be asked to lie very still.
- You will be given breathing instructions to hold your breath at times during the imaging.
- You may be given x-ray contrast which might give you a warm, flushed feeling.
- The IR Team will be communicating with you during the entire procedure.
What to expect after the procedure:
- The Interventional Radiologist will briefly talk to you about your procedure.
- You will recover on a unit in the hospital.
- Your recovery time will depend on the type of procedure you had.
- You will receive discharge instructions from the nurse on the unit.
- The Interventional Radiologist will dictate a formal report which will be sent to your referring physician.