Interventional Radiology

An abscess is a mass under the skin caused by inflammation. An abscess can occur any place on your body, but are commonly found under armpits, near the groin, around a tooth and at the base of the spine. In some cases, an abscess drainage (also called a percutaneous abscess drainage) will be performed by an interventional radiologist. The procedure uses medical imaging (CT or ultrasound) to guide the needle into the abscess in order to drain it. Afterward, a small drainage catheter is left in place to drain the remaining fluid, which can take several days.

An arthrogram (or direct arthrogram) is a type of imaging test to help diagnose joint conditions and unexplained pain. A “real-time” test, the arthrogram uses the injection of a contrast dye into the joint combined with imaging guidance using fluoroscopy (x-ray), CT or MRI. It is used to evaluate changes in the structure and function of a joint, and can help to determine the type for treatment required or if the joint needs replacement.

There are two types of breast biopsies that we typically perform, and both use imaging guidance to help ensure the accuracy of the sample.

Fine Needle Aspiration uses a very thin needle and syringe to remove either fluid from a cyst or clusters of cells from a solid mass. The procedure requires a great deal of skill, gained through experience with many cases.

Core Needle Biopsy uses a larger needle with a special cutting edge. Under local anesthesia, the needle is inserted through a small incision in the skin and a small core of tissue is removed. With either biopsy, samples are removed and sent to the laboratory for diagnosis.

A CT-guided biopsy uses computed tomography (also known as a “cat” scan) to guide a needle into an abnormality within the body in order to obtain a tissue or fluid sample. CT is a preferred imaging guidance modality over ultrasound for certain types of tumors and for certain bodily organs.

Interventional radiologists provide two different kinds of catheter placement: A peritoneal dialysis (PD) catheter or arteriovenous (AV) access for a hemodialysis catheter. The PD catheter involves the insertion of a soft, flexible plastic tube into the peritoneal cavity in the abdomen. The AV access is created by connecting one of the arteries in your arm to one of your veins. Both procedures use imaging guidance to ensure precise placement of the catheter or fistula within the body.

An HSG is a test to determine female fertility potential. It can help determine whether the fallopian tubes are open or blocked, and if there is a blockage, the test can determine its location. During the procedure, a contrast agency (dye) is injected into the uterine cavity through the cervix. A fluoroscope x-ray is then used to image the fallopian tubes and to help the radiologist assess a possible blockage.

Also known as a “spinal tap,” a lumbar puncture is procedure performed by an interventional radiologist. A needle is inserted into the spinal canal, and cerebrospinal fluid is collected for diagnostic testing in a laboratory.

To assess the spine for disc abnormalities or to evaluate the effectiveness of surgery, a myelogram is often used. A “real-time” test, the myeogram uses an injection of a contrast dye combined with fluoroscopic (moving x-ray) imaging guidance to provide a detailed picture of the spine and spinal column in order to assess problems and abnormalities.

A paracentesis is a procedure that is used to sample the fluid from within the peritoneal cavity. The sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. It is most often used to determine the cause of ascites, which is generally the result of liver disease such as cirrhosis.

When intravenous access is required for a prolonged period of time, a peripherally inserted central catheter is often recommended. During this procedure, and interventional radiologist inserts a soft, flexible tube inserted into the arm, extending it to the superior vena cava inside the chest. Also known as a “PICC line,” the catheter remains in place for days or weeks to allow the delivery of intravenous nutrition or medication, such as antibiotics or chemotherapy.

To relieve the pain caused by inflammation within the joints, an interventional radiologist will perform a steroid joint injection. The procedure uses medical imaging to guide a needle precisely into the area of the joint causing pain. Medication, in the form of a corticosteroid, is then injected into joint. Relief is usually achieved for longer periods of time, and possibly even permanently.

A pleural effusion occurs when the space between the lungs and the chest wall contains excess fluid. A thoracentesis is a procedure that uses imaging guidance and a needle to determine the cause of the excess fluid and also to drain the fluid from the pleural effusion, which relieves pressure on the lungs and can help restore normal breathing.

An ultrasound-guided biopsy uses ultrasound, or sonography, to guide a needle into the abnormality within the body in order to obtain a tissue sample. The sample is then examined under a microscope in a laboratory to determine the nature of the problem. This type of biopsy requires no ionizing radiation, and results in little or no scarring compared with surgical biopsies.