Vascular Interventional Radiology procedures are a form of minimally invasive surgery. Using imaging techniques, an interventional physician, or interventionalist, can diagnose and treat problems throughout the body using small incisions and a variety of instruments to fix problems that previously often required major surgery. An interventionalist can fix problems that occur in your arteries—the blood vessels that bring nutrients and oxygen-rich blood to your body from your heart—and veins—the blood vessels that return oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart. For example, blockages in arteries can cause you to have trouble walking (claudication) or to develop pain and even ulcers in your feet. Blood clots in your leg veins can become dislodged and travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism). A weakened artery wall (aneurysm) in the abdomen can burst.
These are all very serious medical conditions for which interventional radiology can play an important role in repairing with minimally invasive techniques. You will typically meet with the interventionalist in an office visit prior to any procedure and he or she will discuss your problem with you and advise you on how an interventional procedure may benefit you. We’ll thoroughly review your specific health history as well as the advantages and risks of any planned procedure. We may ask you to stop taking some medications or take new ones prior to your procedure. You may need additional tests, such as special CT scans or MRIs.
Your doctor may ask you to stop taking blood-thinning medications, such as Coumadin, Plavix, aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, before having any invasive procedure where we enter an artery.
All interventional procedures in which you undergo general anesthesia or conscious sedation require that you do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your procedure. You can take your medications with a sip of water the morning of the procedure.
If you are having an outpatient procedure and you receive sedation or general anesthesia, you will need someone to bring you and take you home the day of the procedure.
You should always tell your doctor if you are pregnant, or if there is any possibility you might be pregnant, before undergoing diagnostic radiology procedures. You don’t want to expose your developing baby to any unnecessary radiation.