Interventional radiology involves learning how to perform from a variety of invasive procedures using radiologic technology for image guidance. Invasive refers to the fact that small devices are inserted into the body in order to capture images and assist with procedures. The uses of image guided technology in healthcare seem to grow each year; below, you can learn about some of the more common procedures involving interventional radiology:
Angioplasty is a procedure which widens a blood vessel that has become obstructed. A catheter is inserted into the blood vessel and with the help of image guidance, the area of obstruction is located. At the end of the catheter is a deflated balloon-like device. Once the obstructed area is located, the balloon is expanded, which opens the blood vessel and helps to regain normal flow of blood. In some cases, a “stent” is placed in the blood vessel in order to ensure that it remains open.
Embolization is the opposite type of procedure from angioplasty, in which substances are inserted in order to stop irregular blood flow or to inhibit a non-working organ such as the spleen. Sometimes image guided technology is used to locate an abcess or an area that requires draining.
Some procedures simply involve using the image guided technology to assist with diagnosis. An angiogram is a procedure similar to the one described above; however, it is used solely for obtaining images and determining areas of blockage or irregularity.
Another common procedure for cancer patients is chemoembolization, which is an interventional procedure where cancer treatment agents are delivered to a tumor, then clotted so that the chemotherapy agent is not pushed from the area of concern.
Thrombolysis is a technique in which image guided technology is used to navigate and locate blood clots, which are then dissolved using either a special pharmaceutical or by using a special device to assist in dissolving the clot.
Biopsies from internal organs are often taken using image guided technology, which can then be examined for disease and treatment.
Becoming trained and certified to perform these procedures often involves a combination of a formal educational or certificate program combined with on the job training and job shadowing with a seasoned professional. For those who wish to begin on a path towards becoming an interventional radiology specialist, it is recommended that you start by learning how to become a radiologic technologist or diagnostic medical sonographer and getting certified. This will set the proper foundation for further studies in IR. You can learn more about interventional radiology training and a more comprehensive list of it's uses.