Interventional Radiology

MRPC Interventional radiologists specialize in diagnostic and therapeutic minimally invasive procedures.

(For more information about these procedures or our other varicose vein procedures please click here.)

These techniques use image guidance (i.e. X-ray, CT Scan, Ultrasound) to place small catheters (spaghetti sized tubes), needles, and other devices into targeted areas of the body. Some treatment examples are:

  • Injection of contrast dye into veins and arteries to diagnose vascular problems and the expansion of internal small stents with balloons (angioplasty) to fix them
  • Stablizing fractures of the spine by directly injecting bone cement into broken bones
  • Treating cancer using directed chemotherapy or placing a radiofrequency probe to destroy a tumor
  • Using small particles to stop blood flow (embolization) to uterine fibroids in order to provide symptomatic relief
  • Draining obstruction or infected fluid collections without surgery.

Interventional Radiology (abbreviated IR or sometimes IVR) is a subspecialty of radiology in which minimally invasive procedures are performed using image guidance. Some of these procedures are done for purely diagnostic purposes (e.g., angiograms), while others are done for treatment purposes (e.g., angioplasties). Pictures (images) are used to direct these procedures, which are usually done with needles or other tiny instruments like small tubes called catheters. The images provide road maps that allow the Interventional Radiologist to guide these instruments through the body to the areas of interest.

The landscape of medicine is constantly changing, and for the past 30 years, interventional radiologists have been responsible for much of the medical innovation and development of the minimally invasive procedures that are commonplace today. Interventional radiologists pioneered modern medicine with the invention of angioplasty and the catheter-delivered stent, which were first used to treat peripheral arterial disease. By using a catheter to open the blocked artery, the procedure allowed an 82-year-old woman, who refused amputation surgery, to keep her gangrene-ravaged left foot. To her surgeon’s disbelief, her pain ceased, she started walking, and three “irreversibly” gangrenous toes spontaneously sloughed. She left the hospital on her feet—both of them. Charles Dotter, MD, the interventional radiologist that pioneered this technique, is known as the “Father of Interventional Radiology,” and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1978.

Angioplasty and stenting revolutionized medicine and led the way for the more widely known applications of coronary artery angioplasty and stenting that revolutionized the practice of cardiology. Today many conditions that once required surgery can be treated non-surgically by interventional radiologists. Through a small knick in the skin, they use tiny catheters and miniature instruments so small they can be run through a person’s network of arteries to treat at the site of illness internally, saving the patient from open invasive surgery. While no treatment is risk free, the risks of interventional procedures are far lower than the risks of open surgery, and are a major advance in medicine for patients.

For further information, please visit the Memphis Vascular Website.


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