What is Vascular and Interventional Radiology

IR doctors in discussion

Interventional radiology is a medical sub-specialty of radiology utilizing minimally-invasive image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat diseases in nearly every organ system. The concept behind interventional radiology is to diagnose and treat patients using the least invasive techniques currently available in order to minimize risk to the patient and improve health outcomes. These procedures have less risk, less pain and less recovery time in comparison to open surgery.

Interventional radiologists are medical doctors with additional six or seven years of specialized training after medical school. All of our faculty interventionalists have completed a one or two-year fellowship program after their diagnostic radiology residency. They are certified by the American Board of Radiology.

Therapeutic and Diagnostic Specialty

Interventional Radiology (IR) originated within diagnostic radiology as an invasive diagnostic subspecialty. IR is now a therapeutic and diagnostic specialty that comprises a wide range of minimally invasive image-guided therapeutic procedures as well as invasive diagnostic imaging. The range of diseases and organs amenable to image-guided therapeutic and diagnostic procedures are extensive and constantly evolving, and include, but are not limited to, diseases and elements of the vascular, gastrointestinal, hepatobiliary, genitourinary, pulmonary, musculoskeletal, and, the central nervous system. As part of IR practice, IR physicians provide patient evaluation and management relevant to image-guided interventions in collaboration with other physicians or independently. IR procedures have become an integral part of medical care.

Many minimally invasive image-guided procedures performed by IR have supplanted major surgical procedures by either IR physicians educating other medical fields or IR physicians taking on a clinical role.

Milestones Pioneered by Interventional Radiologists

1966Embolization therapy to treat tumors and spinal cord vascular malformations by blocking the blood flow
1967The Judkins technique of coronary angiography, the technique still most widely used around the world today
1967Closure of the patent ductus arteriosis, a heart defect in newborns of a vascular opening between the pulmonary artery and the aorta
1967Selective vasoconstriction infusions for hemorrhage, now commonly used for bleeding ulcers, GI bleeding and arterial bleeding
1969The catheter-delivered stenting technique and prototype stent
1960-74Tools for interventions such as heparinized guidewires, contrast injector, disposable catheter needles and see-through film changer
1970'sPercutaneous removal of common bile duct stones
1970'sOcclusive coils
1972Selective arterial embolization for GI bleeding, which was adapted to treat massive bleeding in other arteries in the body and to block blood supply to tumors
1973Embolization for pelvic trauma
1974Selective arterial thrombolysis for arterial occlusions, now used to treat blood clots, stroke, DVT, etc.
1974Transhepatic embolization for variceal bleeding
1977-78Embolization technique for pulmonary arteriovenous malformations and varicoceles
1977-83Bland- and chemo-embolization for treatment of hepatocellular cancer and disseminated liver metastases
1980Cryoablation to freeze liver tumors
1980Development of special tools and devices for biliary manipulation
1980'sBiliary stents to allow bile to flow from the liver saving patients from biliary bypass surgery
1981Embolization technique for spleen trauma
1982TIPS (transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt) to improve blood flow in damaged livers from conditions such as cirrhosis and hepatitis CDilators for interventional urology, percutaneous removal of kidney stones
1983The balloon-expandable stent (peripheral) used today
1985Self-expandable stents
1990Percutaneous extraction of gallbladder stones
1990Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) technique for liver tumors
1990'sTreatment of bone and kidney tumors by embolization
1990'sRFA for soft tissue tumors, i.e., bone, breast, kidney, lung and liver cancer
1991Abdominal aortic stent grafts
1994The balloon-expandable coronary stent used today
1997Intra-arterial delivery of tumor-killing viruses and gene therapy vectors to the liver
1999Percutaneous delivery of pancreatic islet cells to the liver for transplantation to treat diabetes
1999Developed the endovenous laser ablation procedure to treat varicose veins and venous disease