Frequently Asked Questions About Interventional Radiology and Image-Guided Medicine

What is interventional radiology and image-guided medicine?

Interventional radiology and image-guided medicine is a specialty of radiology in which radiologists diagnose and/or treat diseases without surgery by guiding tiny tubes through your body's arteries and organs using X-rays and other imaging methods to guide them. This allows radiologists to deliver medications directly to a disease site, open blocked blood vessels, obtain biopsies and perform a range of other procedures.

Interventional radiologists  specialize in the use of fluoroscopy (“real-time,” in-motion X-rays), computed tomography (CT) , ultrasound and MR to guide passage of small instruments (catheters and wires) to various parts of the body through small incisions in the skin. The instruments are used to help visualize internal structures, deliver medicine to specific areas within the body and perform various other procedures, especially in non-cardiac arteries throughout the body.

What is the difference between interventional and diagnostic radiology?

Interventional radiology seeks to treat disease using electromagnetism or radiation. Diagnostic radiology seeks to see how the body is functioning to discover if something is wrong.

How long will the test take?

This depends entirely on the exam to be performed. Preparation time takes from 30 minutes to one hour. Recovery time can last from one hour for procedures requiring sedation to six hours following arteriograms (procedures used to visualize arteries). Some patients require overnight hospital admission.

Do interventional procedures hurt?

The pain that can occur with vascular interventional procedures is controlled with the use of conscious sedation (medication given to a patient who remains awake).

Will I be put to sleep?

One advantage of the minimally invasive approach used by interventional radiologists is that most procedures can be completed without requiring overnight admission into the hospital. Most procedures are performed with local numbing medicine at the location in the skin where the catheter or needle enters the body. Often, sedation medicine is given through an IV to make patients more comfortable and relaxed, but not put them to sleep.

How long will I be in the hospital?

Most procedures do not require admissions longer than 23 hours for observation. Some exceptions apply depending on the procedure and the general health status of the patient.

Should I take my daily medications?

Morning medications should be taken with a small amount of water.

How and when will I receive my results?

You will need to contact your referring physician for your results. Referring physicians will be notified immediately if results are critical. Results that are not critical will be available to your physician's office within 24 hours.