6 Conditions That Interventional Radiology Can Help Treat


Interventional radiology is a remarkable medical sub-specialty that utilizes minimally-invasive, image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions. In this blog post, we will explore six of the primary conditions that we treat here at VIP Medical.

From liver cancer to arterial issues, we will discuss the benefits of interventional radiology compared to traditional treatment methods. By understanding these options, patients can make informed decisions about their healthcare and explore the many advantages that our field has to offer.

Liver Cancer

Before interventional radiology came along, the treatment options for liver cancer were pretty limited and far from ideal. Patients diagnosed with this disease were usually subjected to major surgical procedures such as liver resection, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. And while these approaches offered some success, they often caused a lot of adverse side effects - and not to mention the financial strain on many patients!

But then, interventional radiology introduced a simpler and more beneficial solution: endovascular intervention.

At VIP Medical, we utilize procedures such as transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) and Microwave Ablation to manage liver cancer. TACE involves the targeted delivery of chemotherapy drugs directly to the tumor, minimizing damage to healthy liver tissue and reducing systemic side effects. Microwave ablation, on the other hand, utilizes thermal energy to destroy cancerous cells. 

Each procedure is an effective alternative to surgery with shorter recovery times and reduced complications.

One of the greatest advantages of these minimally invasive therapies is that they preserve the integrity of the patient's body. With an endovascular approach to treating liver cancer, our therapies solely target the tumor, eliminating the need for large incisions, extended hospital stays, and exorbitant surgical costs. 

And best of all, this approach allows patients to spend more quality time with their loved ones, free from the burdens imposed by traditional treatment methods. 

“Every year in the United States, over 35,000 people will be diagnosed with liver cancer. This is a very challenging disease; however, survival rates have been steadily improving due to some emerging treatment strategies that we can use to treat liver tumors.” - Dr. Kevin Hirsch, MD

While liver cancer is a tough battle to face, these advancements in interventional radiology are bringing hope to patients for a brighter future.

Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are benign growths within the uterus that will affect up to 80% of women at some point in their lives. And while it’s fortunate that they are not cancerous, these growths can still lead to some pretty distressing symptoms, such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain. Therefore, it is crucial to address them promptly.

Traditionally, treatment for uterine fibroids involved a hysterectomy -  a procedure that completely removes the uterus. And while this was an effective way to eliminate uterine tumors, this method can be physically traumatic - not to mention that it totally eliminates the possibility of future pregnancies.

Fortunately, interventional radiologists have developed an alternative solution for treating uterine fibroids called Uterine Fibroid Embolization. 

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a procedure where tiny particles are injected into the blood vessels that supply the fibroids, cutting off their blood supply and causing them to shrink. This technique effectively relieves symptoms without the need for surgery, preserving the uterus and providing a quicker recovery time compared to more invasive options. 

“We have a lot of success with this treatment, especially in patients who want to avoid having a major surgery like hysterectomy.” - Dr. Steven Chen, MD

And the best part? UFE is just as effective as a hysterectomy, so women who want to avoid surgery and preserve their uterus now have an amazing alternative to consider.

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Living with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) can bring significant challenges to a person’s daily life. Each step is accompanied by a dull ache or cramping sensation, making it difficult to walk. And in some cases, the pain evolves, becoming sharp and shooting up the leg. 

With PAD, numbness, weakness, and coldness in the legs even further hinder mobility, and wounds take longer to heal, leaving one vulnerable to infections. Emotionally, it can be traumatic to witness the gradual decline in one’s own physical abilities. 

This condition occurs when the arteries, usually in the legs, narrow or become blocked. But the good news is that endovascular experts have developed various effective, minimally-invasive treatments for PAD, such as angioplasty and stenting. 

Angioplasty involves using a small balloon to widen the narrowed artery and restore blood flow. During this procedure, a stent (a small mesh tube) is sometimes placed to keep the artery open, but it's not always necessary, as angioplasty alone can often be sufficient.

At VIP Medical, our skilled interventional radiologists have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating peripheral artery disease, utilizing advanced imaging technologies to locate and assess the severity of arterial blockages precisely.

These procedures can significantly improve symptoms, increase mobility, and reduce the risk of complications, offering a less invasive alternative to surgery that restores a patient’s quality of life.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) 

The term "Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia" is commonly used to refer to an enlarged prostate; however, this is not the sole characteristic of this condition. In reality, it is much more complex and troublesome. 

While cases of BPH may involve an enlarged prostate, it is important to note that not every enlarged prostate is necessarily BPH.

BPH is a condition that can manifest with various symptoms, including:

  • Enlargement of the prostate
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Urination difficulties
  • Weak urine stream
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Incomplete urination
  • Hematuria (presence of blood in the urine)

As one can imagine, these symptoms can be very uncomfortable - not to mention embarrassing.

Traditionally, BPH has been managed through surgical interventions aimed at resecting or removing prostate tissue. And while this approach effectively reduces the prostate's size, many patients have declined it due to concerns about undergoing surgery in such a sensitive area.

Fortunately, patients with BPH now have another option with Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE) - a minimally-invasive procedure that's just as effective as surgery but without the risks of impotence or incontinence.

During Prostate Artery Embolization, our highly skilled physicians utilize advanced imaging technologies to guide a small catheter into the artery that supplies blood to the prostate. Once in place, small microspheres are injected into the artery, blocking the blood flow and reducing the prostate to its normal size.

Many men prefer this procedure due to its accessibility through an artery (usually in the wrist or groin) and its minimally-invasive nature.

Spinal Compression Fractures

Spinal compression fractures are very common, especially for those with osteoporosis or bone tumors. They can also be caused by trauma. When these fractures occur, they can lead to collapsed or compressed vertebrae, which typically results in sudden and severe back pain, limited mobility, and a hunched posture.

And while some patients are able to manage their pain with medication, others will benefit from an outpatient procedure known as Kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty is a procedure that first involves inflating a small balloon inside the patient’s vertebra that creates additional space between them. There, our physicians use advanced imaging technology to insert bone cement directly into the fractured bone, which provides stability and, in turn, reduces back pain. 

In some cases, this procedure can restore height in the compressed vertebrae, allowing the patient to stand up straighter. Kyphoplasty can also be used alongside ablation to address a spinal tumor. 

“Our patients have been very happy with their results. Many walk out of the clinic with literally no pain afterward, compared with debilitating pain before the procedure.” - Dr. Nikhil Mehta, MD

Genicular Artery Embolization

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones gradually wears down. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion in the affected joint that typically worsens over time - without treatment, that is. 

OA can occur in any joint of the body, but one of the most common complaints we receive is that of arthritis-related knee pain. Fortunately, interventional radiology has a solution for this, too! 

At VIP Medical, knee pain is treated with a procedure called Genicular Artery Embolization (GAE) which involves blocking or reducing blood flow to the genicular arteries (small arteries that supply blood to the knee joint).

During the procedure, our physicians will insert a thin catheter into the femoral artery and navigate it to the genicular arteries using imaging guidance. Once the catheter is in place, tiny particles or coils are then injected into the arteries to block or reduce blood flow.

By reducing blood flow to the knee joint, GAE aims to alleviate pain by preventing inflammation and reducing the nerve signals associated with pain. And the best part? This procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis, meaning patients can go home the same day!

In Conclusion

Interventional radiology has completely revolutionized how we approach diagnosing and treating different medical conditions. Whether a patient is dealing with liver cancer or uterine fibroids, this specialized field offers incredible alternatives to surgery.

If you or someone you care about is facing any of these conditions, it's worth talking to your healthcare provider about the options that interventional radiology provides. Stay informed, explore all your options, and make decisions based on your specific situation. That way, you can position yourself to receive the best possible care.

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