Interventional Radiology

Combining diagnostic imaging with minimally invasive procedures

Interventional radiology is an area of medicine that combines diagnostic imaging with minimally invasive procedures. Interventional radiologists are involved in the treatment of the patient, as well as the diagnosis of disease. Imaging technology is used to target, guide and monitor treatments of conditions inside the body from the outside. At Main Line Health we offer interventional radiology services at locations throughout the Philadelphia suburbs.

Interventional radiology uses a variety of imaging techniques — including X-rays, fluoroscopy, CT, MRI and ultrasound — to insert small instruments and tools through small incisions in the skin to target sites deep within the body. These can include needles, catheters, wires or stents that can be used to perform biopsies, drain fluids, deliver medication or opening up narrowed ducts and vessels throughout the body.

These procedures are often performed under local anesthesia with intravenous (IV) sedation and typically do not require general anesthesia, to complex surgical treatment and in many cases eliminating the need for hospitalization.

Procedures performed by the interventional radiologist

Most Interventional radiology procedures are performed on an outpatient basis. Typical interventional procedures include:

  • Angioplasty: The use of a small balloon on the tip of a catheter inserted into a blood vessel to open up an area of blockage inside blood vessel.
  • Embolization: The insertion of a substance through a catheter into a blood vessel to stop hemorrhaging, or excessive bleeding.
  • Insertion of gastrostomy tubes: Inserting feeding tubes into into the stomach if patients are unable to take food by mouth.
  • Intravascular ultrasound: The use of ultrasound inside a blood vessel to better visualize the interior of the vessel in order to detect problems inside the blood vessel.
  • Stent placement: A tiny, expandable coil, called a stent, is placed inside a blood vessel at the site of a blockage, then to open up the blockage.
  • Foreign body extraction: The use of a catheter inserted into a blood vessel to retrieve a foreign body in the vessel.
  • Needle biopsy: Imaging technology is used to help insert and guide a small needle into the breast or other part of the body to obtain a tissue biopsy.
  • Insertion of blood clot filters: A small filter is inserted into a blood clot to catch and break up blood clots.
  • Injection of clot-lysing agents: Clot-lysing agents, such as tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), are injected into the body to dissolve blood clots, increasing blood flow to the heart or brain.
  • Catheter insertion: A catheter is inserted into veins to administer chemotherapy drugs, nutritional support and hemodialysis.
  • Cryoablation: Localized destruction of tissue by freezing.
  • Cancer treatment: Cancer medications can be delivered precisely to the tumor site.

Benefits of interventional radiology

  • Quick procedures
  • Less pain for the patient
  • Smaller incisions
  • A reduced need for general anesthesia
  • Shortened recovery times
  • Diminished risk to the patient
  • Eliminates the need for costly, complex, invasive surgery