A minimally invasive, advanced treatment alternative to traditional surgery
Our interventional radiology departments are recognized regionally and nationally for having in-depth expertise in state-of-the-art imaging and minimally invasive techniques that help our patients recover faster with less pain and fewer risks than traditional surgery.
As one of the largest interventional radiology practices in the country – and the largest in the region – our team of experts treats a high volume of patients every year, allowing us to continue delivering better outcomes for our patients. It also gives patients distinct advantages:
Treatment for complex medical conditions
Being a referral source for out-of-town patients who can travel to seek state-of-the-art interventional radiology treatments
- Subspecialty care that allows us to:
Advance our treatment techniques
Stay up-to-date on the latest research
Provide individualized medical advice informed by our own experiences
In addition, patients can access care at nine acute care hospitals across the region, giving them the latest advanced interventional radiology care close to home.
Benefits and risks
Thanks to clinical and technological advances, interventional radiology provides exceptional benefits to patients. First, interventional radiology may be used to determine if a patient needs surgery while eliminating the need for exploratory surgery.
Additionally, interventional radiologists use the least invasive techniques possible, making only small incisions when necessary. This often results in safer and more effective outcomes than traditional surgery. Because it is minimally invasive, patients typically experience:
While there is always a risk when you undergo any medical procedure, interventional radiology procedures are relatively safe with a low risk of complications. Interventional radiology procedures generally carry significantly lower risks than surgical procedures, while accomplishing similar goals.
Specialties and programs
Conditions and treatments
Frequently asked questions
It’s important to understand your options as you prepare for an upcoming interventional radiology procedure. Talk with your care team about the following questions. Each answer may vary based on your unique situation.
What is interventional radiology?
It is an advanced treatment alternative to traditional surgery. Through a tiny incision in your skin, the radiologists are able to deliver precise treatment for common and life-threatening conditions. Because this treatment is less invasive than surgery, patients often experience quicker recovery and, in many cases, more effective results.
This treatment minimizes risk and pain compared to surgery and leverages advanced imaging techniques, such as ultrasounds, X-rays, and MRI scans, to see inside your body and treat a variety of conditions, including:
How is interventional radiology different from surgery?
Unlike traditional surgery, the treatment requires only a tiny incision the size of a pinhole. That means less pain for patients — and a faster recovery. Most procedures can be completed in an outpatient setting, allowing many patients to go home the same day they receive treatment. If a hospital stay is necessary, patients are often discharged within 24 hours.
While many surgical procedures require patients to undergo general anesthesia, this procedure uses conscious sedation techniques to make patients comfortable and relaxed during the procedure without the risks of complication from general anesthesia.
These procedures have been proven to result in similar outcomes — or at times — significantly better outcomes than traditional open surgery. In fact, for certain treatments, interventional radiology has replaced traditional open surgery.
Who performs interventional radiology procedures?
At MedStar Health, all of these specialized procedures are performed by board-certified doctors who have completed subspecialty training in interventional radiology. As part of your care team, your radiologist may also work with nurse practitioners and physician assistants who also have received specialized training in interventional radiology. In addition, interventional radiologists work closely with doctors in other medical specialties to ensure personalized care based on your individual needs.
Should I eat before my interventional radiology procedure?
Your radiologist will advise you during your pre-procedure consultation of any nutritional guidelines to follow. Generally speaking, you may be required to stop eating solid foods at midnight before your procedure.
Can I continue taking my regular medications before my interventional radiology procedure?
Your radiologist will advise you during your pre-procedure consultation of what medications you should or shouldn’t continue to take. In most cases, your doctor will advise you to continue taking your regular medications. However, your radiologist will likely advise you to stop taking any blood thinning medications for a certain number of days before the procedure.
Will I be awake during my interventional radiology procedure? Will I receive general anesthesia?
Unlike traditional surgery, patients undergoing these procedures generally do not receive general anesthesia. You’ll benefit from a quicker recovery and less risk of complications.
Instead, your care team will generally numb the incision area with a local anesthetic to minimize discomfort. Then they will use an intravenous (IV) line to deliver sedation, which will make you more comfortable and relaxed during your procedure. You can rest easy knowing that you will feel minimal pain.
Depending on your procedure, age, and medical condition, your sedation level may range from:
Minimal – You will be drowsy but able to talk
Moderate – You may fall asleep and be unaware of your surroundings for some of the procedure
Deep (“Twilight”) – You will be asleep but will breathe on your own. You will have very little memory of the procedure
How soon can I leave after my interventional radiology procedure? Will I be able to drive?
Most procedures involving arteries and veins require a minimum recovery of six hours. For other interventional radiology procedures, you may need to stay one night in the hospital before being discharged. Your care team will inform you of your expected recovery time prior to your appointment.
It’s important to note that you will not be able to drive after your procedure. Please be sure to arrange for someone else to accompany you to your procedure and take you home.
When will I find out my results?
If you had a biopsy or other diagnostic procedure, your care team will call you to share any imaging results. Timing varies based on your procedure and the location where you received your procedure. Your care team will inform you of when to expect a call with the results.