Medicine is constantly changing. Particularly in fields such as interventional radiology, where the very crux of the profession relies on treatments that require imaging guidance. For this reason, interventional radiologists are continually developing new cutting-edge techniques to take care of a variety of medical conditions.
Here are some of the terms that are being used for these minimally invasive, targeted treatments. They are provided below for your convenience. Additionally, if you have just begun reporting on the medical industry, we also have included details about some of the common ailments interventional radiologists treat.
Abdominal aortic aneurysum or AAA: An aortic aneurysm
is a weak area in the main blood vessel that carries blood from
the heart to the rest of the body. As blood flows through the
aorta, the weak area bulges like a balloon and can burst if the
balloon gets too big. The most common site where an aortic aneurysm
occurs is below the area where the aorta divides to supply blood
to the kidneys and above where it divides to supply blood to the
pelvis and legs. An aneurysm in this location is called an abdominal
aortic aneurysm (AAA).
Angioplasty: An X-ray exam of the arteries and veins to
diagnose blockages and other blood vessel problems. An interventional
radiologist performs this X-ray procedure, which is also called
an angiogram. During the angiogram, the doctor inserts a thin
tube (catheter) into the artery through a small nick in the skin
about the size of a pencil tip. A substance called a contrast
agent (X-ray dye) is injected to make the blood vessels visible
on the X-ray.
Atherosclerosis: A gradual process in which cholesterol
and scar tissue build up, forming a substance called "plaque"
that clogs the blood vessels.
Biliary catheter: A tube that goes through a person's skin and liver into his/her bile ducts to drain the bile. In some cases, the bile drains out of the body into a drainage bag. In other instances, the catheter drains the bile into the bowel and a bag is not needed on the outside.
Bypass graft: A medical procedure in which a vein graft from another part of the body or a graft made from artificial material is used to create a detour around a blocked artery.
Central venous access catheter or CVAC: A tube that is inserted beneath a person's skin so there is a simple, pain-free way for doctors and nurses to give the patient nutrients or draw his/her blood. The CVAC is placed to spare the patient the irritation and discomfort of repeated needle injections.
Clinical trial: A clinical trial is a scientific study of a new treatment or drug that has not yet been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Before the FDA approves a new drug or therapy, a clinical trial is the only way for a patient to try it. The doctor explains the potential risks and benefits and helps a patient decide if a particular clinical trial is appropriate for him/her.
Deep vein thrombosis or DVT: A blood clot, which most often develops in a leg vein.
Diagnostic radiologist: The diagnostic radiologist makes and interprets diagnostic images, reviewing requests for x-ray, nuclear radiology, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) and other diagnostic imaging procedures, and determining the applicability of requested procedures. They also confer with medical and dental officers regarding diagnoses of cases. Diagnostic radiologists differ from interventional radiologists in that they do not perform medical procedures.
Femoral arteriotomy: The process by which an interventional radiologist inserts a catheter through the femoral artery (the main artery of the thigh) to perform a variety of medical procedures.
Fibroid: A non-cancerous (benign) tumor. This term is
most often used when referring to fibroids occurring in the uterus,
which can range in size from very tiny (a quarter of an inch)
to larger than a cantaloupe. Occasionally, they can cause the
uterus to grow to the size of a five-month pregnancy. In most
cases in which a woman has a uterine fibroid, more than one is
Interventional radiologist (IR): Interventional radiologists
are medical doctors who have specialized in doing medical procedures
that involve radiology. Radiologists use imaging equipment such
as X-rays, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, ultrasound and computed
tomography (CT) to diagnose disease. IRs are board certified radiologists
that are fellowship trained in percutaneous (through the skin)
interventions using guided imaging. Their specialized training
is certified by the America Board of Medical Specialties.
Nephrostomy catheter: A catheter that goes through a person's skin into his/her kidney to drain urine. In some cases, the urine drains out of the patient's body into a drainage bag. In other instances, the catheter drains the urine into the bladder and there is no bag on the outside. Reasons to need a nephrostomy catheter include: blockage of the ureter, presence of a hole in the ureter, and preparation for surgery or other procedures on the kidney and ureter.
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD): A condition in which the arteries that carry blood to the arms or legs become narrowed or clogged. This interferes with the normal flow of blood, sometimes causing pain, but often causing no symptoms at all. The most common cause of PVD is atherosclerosis (often called "hardening of the arteries"). In some cases, PVD may be caused by blood clots that lodge in the arteries and restrict blood flow.
Portal hypertension: Seen most frequently in patients with liver disease, such as cirrhosis or hepatitis, portal hypertension is a condition in which the normal flow of blood through the liver is slowed or blocked by scarring or other damage. Patients with the condition are at risk of internal bleeding or other life-threatening complications.
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA): A minimally invasive, targeted treatment in which a small needle - attached to a device that delivers radiofrequency (RF) energy - is inserted into a tumor. The RF energy is then applied to heat and destroy the cancerous tissue.
Stent: A stent - sometimes called an endoprosthesis - is a small, flexible tube made of medical-grade plastic or wire mesh. It is implanted in the body most often to keep an artery open.
TIPS: A minimally invasive procedure that helps correct blood flow problems in the liver, which is a common outcome of liver disease. Using x-ray images and x-ray dye (also called contrast), the interventional radiologist makes a tunnel in the liver through which the blocked blood can flow. After the tunnel is made, the doctor inserts a small metal tube, called a shunt or stent, into the tunnel to ensure it stays open. TIPS stands for transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt.
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE): A procedure in which a small nick (less than a ¼ of an inch) is made in the groin and a tube is inserted into an artery. The tube is guided through the artery to the uterine artery while the interventional radiologist (IR) watches using X-ray. The IR then injects tiny plastic beads, each one the size of a grain of sand, into the artery that is supplying blood to the fibroid tumor. The particles flow to the fibroids first and wedge into the vessels and cannot travel to other parts of the body. This blocks the blood flow to the fibroid and causes it to shrink.
Venous disease: A variety of conditions affecting the legs, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT), venous stasis disease, phlebitis and varicose veins.