If you are like many people, Interventional Radiology (IR) may be the most important medical specialty you’ve never heard of. As one of healthcare’s newest specialties, IR is not yet as familiar as, say, oncology or cardiology. But for the last several years, IR has been quietly revolutionizing the treatment of many conditions, from liver cancer to blood clots. And LCMH is at the forefront of these advances.
Interventional radiologists use needles inserted through the skin or slender tubes run through blood vessels to perform procedures. Often, these procedures are less invasive alternatives to surgery. The procedures themselves vary widely. But they all have one thing in common: The doctors use imaging to guide their work, as they maneuver the needles or tubes very precisely within a patient’s body. The types of imaging used may include:
- Computed tomography (CT) scanning
- Fluoroscopy (a live, continuous X-ray image, similar to an X-ray movie)
“IR can be used to diagnose and treat an array of health problems throughout the body,” says Hamid Nazeer, D.O., LCMH’s medical director of IR. “For example, it may be used for treating certain types of cancer, vascular conditions and back pain.”
The Latest and Greatest Technology
Earlier this year, LCMH opened a new IR suite with a state-of-the-art imaging system. It combines two types of imaging technology, CT and fluoroscopy, in a single machine. The model installed at LCMH has the most advanced capabilities available.
“No other hospital in the state — and only four others in the entire country — have this top-of-the-line model,” says Don Martinez, M.D., an interventional radiologist at LCMH.
This hybrid machine is a huge step forward. That’s because some IR treatments require both types of imaging. For instance, to treat liver cancer, the doctor might need CT to locate the tumor and fluoroscopy to find the blood vessels leading up to it. In the past, these two forms of imaging had to be done separately. But with the hybrid machine, the doctors can switch back and forth between the two types of imaging while the procedure is in progress. This helps the doctor be more precise in targeting the tumor.
For patients, two-in-one imaging technology takes less time than having CT and fluoroscopy done separately. That may mean shorter procedure times or fewer trips to the hospital.
A Broad Range of Treatment Options
IR is extremely versatile. Among other things, it can be used to:
- Freeze and destroy cancer cells
- Deliver radiation-coated beads or chemotherapy to tumors
- Remove blood clots
- Cauterize and close abnormal veins
- Fix spinal fractures
- Insert and fix dialysis catheters
- Drain pockets of infection inside the body
“We’re finding innovative ways to do new procedures that couldn’t be done before. And we’re finding safer, less invasive ways to do older procedures,” says Dr. Martinez.
The Best Possible Patient Experience
The IR Department at LCMH recently moved into a brand-new space designed with patient comfort and ease in mind. “The environment is soothing, and that makes the patient experience much more pleasant,” Dr. Nazeer says.
To ensure that patients get the right care, the IR team collaborates closely with other specialists at the hospital, such as oncologists and emergency medicine physicians. “It’s very exciting when we can use the latest technology to provide patients with the best treatment option available,” says Dr. Nazeer.
What Conditions Do Interventional Radiologists Treat?
LCMH interventional radiologists provide treatments for a long list of health conditions, including:
- Cancerous tumors – Kidney and liver cancer, for example
- Pulmonary embolism – The blockage of an artery in the lungs
- Deep vein thrombosis – A blood clot in a vein deep inside the body
- Peripheral artery disease – Narrowed arteries reducing blood flow to the legs
- Varicose veins and spider veins – Swollen, twisted veins in the legs
- Vertebral compression fracture – The break and collapse of a bone in the spine
- Pelvic congestion syndrome – Long-lasting pelvic pain
- Uterine fibroids – Noncancerous tumors in the wall of the uterus
To schedule an appointment, talk with your healthcare provider for a referral or contact the LCMH Interventional Radiology Clinic directly: 708-229-4787 (office) 708-229-6254 (fax) We’re available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., to help you make an appointment. At other times, you can leave us a message and we’ll call you back within one to two business days.