What is Interventional Radiology?

Least Invasive Back Surgery, Least Risk to Patient

Interventional Radiology (IR) Defined

Interventional radiology (IR) is not a new field. IR physicians were the pioneers of minimally invasive surgery. IR invented heart catheterization, stents and angioplasty. Dr Charles Dotter, an Interventional Radiologist, developed angioplasty to open blocked arteries over 50 years ago. Stents were developed by an Interventional Radiologist named Julio Palmaz in 1985.

These techniques have subsequently learned only recently by other physicians such as Cardiology and Vascular Surgery. IR has been used for effective diagnosis and treatment of many ailments and diseases for many years including: angioplasty and stent placement, catheterization and angiography, cancer treatments, biopsies, dialysis, and treatment for varicose veins to name just a few.

How IR Works

Interventional radiologists use x-rays, fluoroscopy, computed tomography (CT) scans, ultrasound (US) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to obtain images which are then used to direct interventional instruments such as needles, catheters and guide wires inside the body for non-surgical diagnosis and treatment. The physician is able to use local anesthesia and make a small incision, minimizing the trauma to the patient. Many patients can now be treated by an interventional radiologist instead of a surgeon, and eliminate long hospital stays and recovery times altogether.

IR Certification and Training

Interventional radiologists are physicians who have completed a college degree, four years of medical school, a year of training in general medicine or surgery internship, a four-year diagnostic radiology residency program, and then one or two years of fellowship in vascular and interventional radiology.

Common IR Procedures

Interventional radiology (IR) is not a new field and is used by physicians specializing in vascular surgery, oncology, gastric, kidney and liver diseases, women’s health, and back problems. IR has been used for effective diagnosis and treatment of many ailments and diseases for many years including: angioplasty and stent placement, catheter placement, drain insertions, biopsies, dialysis, access maintenance, embolization of arteries and even laser treatment for varicose veins.

Interventional radiology is now a leading non-surgical option to repair fractures to the spine. Vertebroplasty allows physicians to use interventional radiology to guide a needle for the injection of biocompatible bone cement inside fractured vertebrae. Balloon Kyphoplasty also uses IR for the needle-guided opening of collapsed or broken vertebrae using a balloon to create a gap for bone cement placement.

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The Benefits of IR

Interventional radiology is the preferred choice for diagnosis and repair of broken bones in the spine and can be performed as outpatient surgery. IR eliminates the prolonged pain, hospital stay, bed rest and recovery time associated with traditional back surgery. The benefits of IR treatments include improvement in mobility and the ability to perform activities of daily living. IR treatments of fractured vertebrae from compression have been clinically shown to relieve back pain and improve quality of life.

The the Spine Fracture Center now offers two minimally-invasive outpatient interventional radiology procedures for Spinal Compression Fractures: Vertebroplasty and Kyphon® Balloon Kyphoplasty.

You do not have to feel alone during this time. The team at the Spine Fracture Center truly cares about you and your unique situation and is here to help. Please contact the the Spine Fracture Center for a physician consultation to discuss the risks and whether an interventional radiology procedure is right for you.

Call today at (904) 402-8648 to get started on your Return to Life!