Interventional Radiology

What is Interventional Radiology?

Interventional radiology, or IR, is minimally invasive and often used as an alternative to open or laparoscopic surgery. Doctors use medical imaging including fluoroscopy, MRI, CT, and ultrasound to guide IR procedures.

Do Interventional Radiologists Perform Surgery?

Yes, interventional radiologists perform minimally invasive surgery. During interventional radiology procedures, doctors make small incisions in the abdomen, then use needles and catheters to treat conditions in the body. Using medical images, doctors guide the catheters through the body’s arteries, vessels, and organs.

Importance of Interventional Radiology

Interventional radiology has become the primary way to treat many types of conditions. That’s because it reduces cost, pain, risk, and recovery time to patients compared to traditional open surgery.

Types of Interventional Radiology Procedures

There is a wide range of IR procedures that can be performed with interventional radiology. What’s more, the list is growing and changing all the time. Everything from studying tissue to dissolving blood clots is possible with IR. Let’s take a look at some of the interventional radiology procedures:

  • Angioplasty: This is a procedure to repair or unblock blood vessels.
  • Stenting: Stents are small mesh tubes that treat narrow or weak arteries
  • Thrombolysis:This is the means of dissolving blood clots.
  • Embolization: Embolization blocks blood flow to cancer cells.
  • Radiofrequency ablation: This process is used to reduce nerve pain.
  • Biopsies: Biopsies study the body’s tissues.


To prepare for an interventional radiology procedure, you’ll want to be sure to tell your doctor about any medications you are taking. You’ll also want to arrange for a ride home after the procedure. Here’s what else you’ll need to do to prepare for IR:

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight before the procedure.
  • In the morning, take any blood pressure and heart medications with a sip of water, unless instructed otherwise.
  • Expect the procedure to last a few hours.

What to Expect During Interventional Radiology Procedures

During an interventional radiology treatment, you can expect to lie in a dimly lit room that feels like a surgical suite. You may receive an injection at the start of the procedure to provide any required dye, medication, or sedation. It is rare that a patient receives anesthesia for one of these procedures.

After the IR Procedure

The length of time for each procedure varies, but they usually last less than four hours. Once your procedure is complete, you’ll be moved into a recovery room and monitored. After a few hours, you can have someone drive you home.

Interventional Radiology Risks

Like all medical procedures, interventional radiology has risks. There is a chance of bleeding or infection. But compared to other procedures, the risks of IR procedures are low and limited.