Interventional Radiology (IR) is a cutting-edge medical specialty that uses image guidance to deliver minimally-invasive treatments. Interventional Radiologists treat a variety of medical conditions including the treatment of several types of cancer.
Why is Minimally-Invasive Interventional Radiology Used?
Interventional radiology allows for targeted diagnosis and treatment with minimally-invasive techniques. With a combination of image guidance (ultrasound, x-ray, CT) and the use of specialized devices interventional radiologists delivery targeted therapy to tumors with faster recovery and fewer complications than traditional therapy (surgery and systemic chemotherapy).
In cancer therapy, interventional radiology is used to perform biopsies, to deliver targeted chemotherapy and radiation therapy, burn and freeze tumors (thermal ablation and cryoablation) and manage pain symptoms.
Benefits over traditional open surgery can include lower risk of infection, less pain, and shorter recovery times. Most IR treatments do not use general anesthesia and don’t require a hospital stay, so patients are able to return home the same day.
Treating Cancer with IR Techniques
Tumor ablation is one way IR is used in cancer treatments. Ablation therapy is the use of extreme hot or cold temperatures in order to ablate, or destroy, tumors. For cancer patients, ablation can be used to treat cancerous tumors or to provide symptom relief.
Cryoablation uses extreme cold to kill cancer cells. A thin needle called a cryoablation probe is directed into a cancerous tumor. A targeted tumor is frozen and thawed several times during the course of a single treatment leading to tumor cell death.
Cryoablation is often used to treat kidney tumors (renal cell carcinoma) and certain types of lung tumors. Cryoablation has also been used to treat other types of cancer which can be discussed with your interventional radiologist. Cryoablation can also be used for pain and symptom relief for patients with bone metastasis or when cancer has spread to other organs.
Heat energy (thermal ablation: radiofrequency and microwave ablation) can also be used to ablate or destroy tumor tissue. Thermal ablation can be used in the treatment of liver, lung, kidney tumors as well as bone metastases. In microwave ablation, electromagnetic waves in the microwave energy spectrum are produced, creating heat around the needle, which is used to destroy cancer cells.
Chemoembolization is an IR treatment that is effective in treating liver cancers. A small catheter is placed into an artery that supplies blood to the liver. Chemotherapy is delivered through the catheter to the tumor. An occluding agent is also used to partially block the blood vessel feeding the tumor. Reducing blood flow to the tumor and delivering chemotherapy through IR can stop or slow tumor growth.
Radioembolization is also an IR treatment used to treat liver tumors. A small catheter is placed into the artery that feeds the tumor and tiny beads are delivered to the tumor. These beads emit a radioactive isotope, yttrium Y-90, directly into the tumor and block the blood supply to the cancer cells.
Central Venous Catheters
Many cancer patients will need a port or peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line to help deliver regular chemotherapy treatment or to reduce needle pricks for diagnostic blood work. A PICC line can stay in for a few weeks or a few months, but a port can stay for up to a few years, so the central venous catheter used will depend on the course of treatment.
Some cancer patients experience uncomfortable symptoms from fluid retention as a side effect of cancer. Drainage catheters can be placed in order to drain excess fluid and provide relief.
Other Interventional Radiology Uses
Outside of cancer care, interventional radiology has a number of other medical uses, like those we offer at Beach Wellness MD. Our IR procedures include balloon angioplasty, atherectomy, and stenting for peripheral artery disease (PAD); uterine fibroid embolization; embolization for pelvic congestion syndrome; and IR procedures for varicose veins and spider veins.
Consult Interventional Radiologist for a Variety of Conditions
At Beach Wellness MD, we treat a number of non-cancer conditions using interventional radiology. Ali Golshan, MD, is a double board-certified leading vascular expert who specializes in in-office, minimally-invasive interventional radiology treatments. He emphasizes one-on-one treatment and personalized attention for each patient.
Call (310) 620-1851 or contact us online today to schedule your appointment.