For patients - What is Interventional Radiology

Interventional Radiology is a range of treatments performed under image guidance performed by specially trained doctors.  

What are the advantages of Interventional Radiology?

Interventional Radiology is much less invasive than conventional treatments and  most procedures will be done through incisions less than 5mm. It is often possible to avoid general anaesthetics  and the majority of our procedures are performed under local anaesthesia sometimes combined with sedation. This means patients can recover faster, often need less time off work and the cost of procedures are reduced. 

What treatments can be undertaken with Interventional Radiology? 

There are now a huge range of procedures possible using Interventional Radiology techniques. We can’t describe them all but these fall into the following main groups; 

Vascular Disease : where  Interventional Radiology techniques started over 40 years ago and probably the most developed. Treatments include opening narrowed vessels, blocking bleeding vessels,  and treating aneurysms (bulge in a vessel). 

Cancer: treatment to kill small tumours (ablation techniques), deliver chemotherapy to larger tumours (transcatheter chemo-embolization), and provide symptomatic relief for bleeding and blockages of vessels and tubes caused by cancer. 

Renal disease: preserving haemodialysis access by treating narrowing and blockages in fistulae. 

Acute Bleeding: IR is uniquely placed to stop bleeding from a  variety of sites with minimal access and trauma. 

How is it done?

There are different techniques depending on the procedure but put broadly  we access the natural routes in the body if at all possible.  This is particularly suitable  for the various tubes in the body such as  blood  vessels, bowel, and urinary tract. We  use an accessible entry point and with the help of catheters and other medical devices travel in the vessel to the point of disease.  Because we are travelling within the natural passages of the body  there is less pain and trauma.  

How can I find out more about Interventional Radiology or a specific procedure?

More information about Interventional Radiology and specfic treatments can be found on the BSIR website: