Interventional Radiology


An occluded artery in the leg before (left) and after (right) balloon
angioplasty


Interventional Radiology is a specialist branch of Radiology that diagnoses and treats conditions using tiny miniaturized instruments, using X-rays to steer and guide them. Typically these procedures are performed under local anaesthetic, sometimes with a little sedation. These techniques are much less invasive than open surgical procedures or even laparoscopy (key-hole surgery); indeed many people call this “pin-hole” surgery!

Interventional Radiologists have an extensive subspecialist training in this field. This work is always carried out in very close conjunction with the referring physician or surgeon. The three Radiologists with principal interventional interest are Dr Ignotus, Dr Wetton and Dr Garrett. Many procedures can be performed on a day case basis but some more complex cases will require an overnight stay. We perform most of such complex cases at The Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury with patients recovering in the private patient unit there, The Wells Suite.

Interventional Radiology
A Typical Patients room on The Wells Suite.

Types of interventional radiology procedures include:


Angiograms

A tiny catheter is introduced into a blood vessel and a “road map” of the arteries or veins obtained to see whether any are blocked, narrowed or in any other way abnormal.

Angioplasty and Stenting

In this technique, a small balloon is passed through the narrowing (or blockage) and inflated to open it up.  This is often used in the legs if patients get pain on walking or even at rest, and to help diabetics.  A fine metallic mesh (stent) is sometimes left in place to hold the artery open.

Embolization

This technique is used to block abnormal arteries or veins.  This is commonly used to treat a varicocele, a varicose vein of the testicle in men.  It can also be used to treat uterine fibroids in women, obviating the need for a hysterectomy and allowing them to return to work within a week.

Biopsy

Biopsy techniques involve sampling of tissue. Under local anaesthetic a fine needle is passed into an abnormal organ so that a tiny fragment of tissue can be taken out for analysis under the microscope. These procedures are often performed as an out-patient, otherwise the patient need only stay in hospital for a few hours afterwards. This allows accurate diagnosis of conditions to guide treatment and has made open surgical biopsies almost obsolete.

Non Vascular procedures (Urological / Biliary tract)

These mostly relate to draining and stenting (inserting tubes into) the bile ducts in obstructive jaundice, or in the kidneys if the ureters (tubes from the kidneys to the bladder) are blocked. This is a very specialised field in which two of our Radiologists have a great deal of expertise. Please contact us if you require further details of these procedures.

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