Interventional radiology is a sub-specialism of radiology, where a radiologist uses different medical imaging techniques, such as X-rays or ultrasound, to perform medical procedures.
These can be invasive diagnostic investigations, such as an arteriogram test or a biopsy, or endovascular and percutaneous treatments. It is not possible to list all the procedures covered by interventional radiology here.
However, opening blocked arteries and performing minimally-invasive treatments for some tumours form a major part of the care provided by interventional radiologists.
Interventional radiologists can treat peripheral arterial disease affecting the legs (usually caused by atherosclerosis), under local anaesthetic and through an opening of less than 2 mm, by using medical ‘balloons’ and stents to reopen narrow or blocked arteries, so that patients do not have to undergo surgery.
Cancer treatments have undergone considerable development during recent years, and it is now possible to offer curative treatments for some tumours, either by using embolisation or by using thermal ablation, which involves using heat from high-frequency radio waves or microwaves to kill cancer cells.