Tiny incision, big results.
Navigating the body. A needle or fine catheter ... imaging to see inside ... highly targeted treatment.
Most IR procedures begin with the prick of a needle. Then your interventional radiologist—who is trained in radiology and minimally invasive interventional therapies—guides a thin wire and a catheter, the size of a strand of spaghetti, through a blood vessel to reach and treat the source of your pain or disease.
It may sound futuristic, but that’s exactly how some of the most innovative and effective treatments in medicine are happening today.
Your interventional radiologist expertly deploys the power of the least invasive and most advanced imaged-guided technology to treat your unique problems—with reduced risk, less pain, shorter recovery times and often, better outcomes.
Learn more through these Patient Essentials:
Expertise you can count on. Before … during … and after.
BEFORE your procedure. The first step is a consultation with your interventional radiologist—either during an office visit or at the clinic or hospital prior to your procedure. After a careful evaluation by the physician, you’ll have a chance to discuss your problem or disease and the full range of treatment options, including alternatives to IR procedures, and associated risks and complications.
Ask all the questions you want. Be sure you understand any pre-procedure tests, required medications, special precautions, and necessary preparations. Together, you and your IR physician will agree on your treatment plan and next steps.
DURING your procedure. The day of your procedure, you’ll arrive at the IR clinic or department where a team of experts will prep you and answer any remaining questions. Unlike open surgery, most IR procedures are done under local anesthesia or conscious sedation (rather than general anesthesia). So you’ll be relaxed, but awake during the entire process.
Now you’re ready for the IR procedure suite. Here, you’ll experience state-of-the art technology and a team of experts, led by your interventional radiologist, who will keep you comfortable during your minimally invasive treatment. Your care team will also take precautions to ensure optimum radiation safety. Your doctor will perform a minimally invasive procedure to diagnose or treat your condition.
AFTER your treatment. Next, you’ll move to the recovery area—either as an outpatient (with discharge the same day) or followed by a (short) hospital stay, depending on your procedure. Your care team will review anticipated recovery and discharge time, restrictions when you go home, possible complications and necessary medications.
You’ll learn when and how to communicate issues or concerns, as well as your return to see your interventional radiologist for follow-up care.
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Frequently asked questions
Q. What does minimally invasive mean?
A. Most IR procedures are conducted through a tiny incision in the skin to deliver a precise, targeted treatment. These treatments typically have reduced risk, less pain, and shorter recovery times as compared to open surgery and general anesthesia.
Q. Will I be asleep or awake for my procedure?
A. Most IR procedures are conducted with either a local anesthetic or under conscious sedation.You will be awake, although sleepy and relaxed, but you may have some idea of what's going on during the procedure. In some cases, you might even be asked to participate in the process by holding your breath or moving a certain way.
Q. How much pain will I experience during/after the procedure?
A. Minimally invasive treatments mean you will experience less pain than with traditional, open surgery. It is unlikely you will feel discomfort during the procedure, and your IR doctor will take every measure to minimize any pain during and after the surgery. Be sure to tell your care team if you are uncomfortable at any point due to pain, and they will help you gain as much relief as possible. During the procedure, you may also feel some pressure as the IR physician guides the needle or instrument through your body. During recovery, your care team will continue to work with you to mitigate any pain you might experience.
Q. What are the possible complications of the IR procedure?
A. While every procedure has a chance of complications, the rate of complications from minimally invasive IR treatments is typically very low, and most patients experience a speedy recovery. Interventional radiologists use the least invasive techniques currently available in order to minimize risk to the patient and improve health outcomes.
Q. What is the recovery time I should expect?
A. Due to the non-invasive nature of IR procedures, you should experience much shorter recovery times than with traditional surgery. Many IR procedures require only a few hours in an outpatient recovery area. Some treatments for more complex problems require an overnight hospital stay.
Q. When should I return for follow-up care?
A. When you are released from the clinic or hospital, your IR will review your follow-up care plan. In some cases, you will schedule a follow-up appointment with your doctor to evaluate your progress and provide any ongoing care required. In other cases, you will not need follow-up care or you will return to the care of your primary care physician.
Q. Do interventional radioilogists collaborate with my other doctors?
A. From diagnosis to follow-up care, IR treatments are typically delivered in collaboration with an integrated care team. Because of the unique advantages of using noninvasive image-guided treatments, other doctors often call on interventional radiologists to treat particularly complicated situations.