Vascular and Interventional Radiology
Vascular and Interventional Radiology (IR for short) is an exciting and rapidly evolving subspecialty of radiology that utilizes minimally-invasive image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat diseases in nearly every organ system of the human body.
The key benefit of IR procedures is the use of small incisions, which have less impact on the patient. Using the vascular system as a roadmap to reach the treatment site, physicians guide tiny surgical instruments with the aid of common body-imaging technology like ultrasounds, x-rays, and CT scans. Because of the minimally invasive nature of IR procedures, patients experience less risk, less pain, and less recovery time compared to more invasive “open” surgery.
Examples of IR procedures performed at VCU Health include:
- Management of some “inoperable” cancers, known as interventional oncology, which offers critical treatment options for patients who are unable to have more invasive surgical procedures
- Insertion of venous ports and catheters to provide short and long term venous access
- Minimally invasive procedures to eliminate deep vein clots known as DVTs (Deep Vein Thrombosis)
- Thermal ablation of tumors through heating (microwave ablation) or freezing (cryoablation)
- Treatment of liver tumors using catheters to inject chemotherapeutic agents (chemoembolization) or Y-90 radioactive particles (radioembolization) directly into the tumors
- Uterine artery embolization to eliminate painful uterine fibroids
- Use of minimally invasive lasers to treat varicose veins
Interventional radiologists are medical doctors who have completed up to seven years of additional specialized training after medical school. All of our interventional radiology faculty are fellowship-trained and are certified by the American Board of Radiology. Led by Malcolm Sydnor, M.D., our IR physicians and staff have developed and introduced many new minimally invasive treatments, and remain national leaders in many of these treatment areas.
And unlike most private practices, our Interventional Radiologists routinely consult and collaborate with vascular surgeons, surgical and medical oncologists and other medical specialties to provide the best possible care for every patient.
Areas of specialization
Interventional Oncology: An integral and growing part of IR, interventional oncology focuses on minimally invasive treatments that are customized to target each patient’s specific cancer. The majority of cancers treated by our Interventional Radiologists are located in the liver or kidney. The procedures we perform include internal radiation therapy (Y-90), direct chemotherapy to a tumor through chemoembolization and the use of heat or cold to destroy the tumor (known as thermal ablation). These treatments can slow tumor growth and in select cases eradicate the tumor.
Vein Care: Veins, unlike arteries, have special valves that help move blood back to the heart and prevent blood from pooling in unwanted areas. When the valves become faulty, pooling of the blood (known as venous reflux) can occur. This leads to increased pressure in the veins, (causing venous hypertension), which can impair healing and contribute to varicose or spider vein formation.
Vein valves can become faulty based on hereditary reasons, but blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (referred to as DVTs) can be the cause as well. To determine the cause of vein problems, we use ultrasound to make a diagnosis. Several minimally invasive treatments are available, including: endovenous thermal ablation, ambulatory phlebectomy and ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy.
For more information, read our spider veins patient information sheet or our varicose veins patient information sheet.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD): Hardening of the arteries (known as atherosclerosis), can narrow the passageway for blood to flow, and can affect any part of the body. Leg pain can often be a major symptom and indicates decreased blood flow through the leg arteries. After a thorough interview, non-invasive testing using ultrasound may be required to help determine the extent of the disease. Treatment comes in many forms, customized to each individual patient. We specialize in minimally invasive techniques, including angiography, angioplasty and stent placement.
For more information, read our peripheral artery disease patient information sheet.
Uterine Fibroids: Affecting approximately 20 to 40 percent of women over the age of 35, uterine fibroids are benign, noncancerous growths located within the muscle wall of the uterus. They can cause severe premenstrual cramping, excessive bleeding and other symptoms. Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a non-surgical, minimally invasive and highly effective treatment for uterine fibroids. As an alternative to surgical procedures such as the surgical removal of the uterus,(hysterectomy) or the surgical removal of the fibroids (myomectomy), UFE uses X-ray imaging to guide a catheter, to the uterine arteries. Tiny particles are injected through the catheter to block the blood vessels feeding the fibroids. This starves the fibroids, causing them to significantly shrink and disappear.
For more in-depth information, visit our Uterine Fibroid section or read our patient information sheet.
At our Richmond outpatient vein center, the Baird Vascular Institute, we offer a comfortable, patient-centered environment for consultations, examinations and a variety of procedures. And at the VCU Medical Center downtown, we feature the latest technology to provide the very best minimally invasive surgeries for both inpatient and outpatient needs.
To set up an appointment or refer a patient, call us at (804) 828-6986.
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