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Interventional Radiology

The University of Tennessee Medical Center was the first hospital in Knoxville to implement a state-of-the-art Bi-plane Vascular/Interventional Radiology Suite. This top of the line equipment allows our highly trained Interventional Radiologists to provide cutting edge vascular/interventional procedures effectively, efficiently and to the best benefit of the patient. In addition, the image quality and radiation dose is optimized.

What is Interventional Radiology?

Interventional Radiology uses image guidance (x-ray, ultrasound, ct, fluro, and magnetic resonance) to perform minimally invasive surgical techniques. Image guidance allows for increased precision in performing procedures. Most procedures are performed on an outpatient basis. They include opening blocked arteries, occluding blood flow to tumors and bleeding sites, draining abscesses and using fine needles to biopsy masses. Conscious sedation, analgesia and local anesthesia are used for patient comfort.

Interventional Radiology Procedures

Uterine Fibroid Embolization – a minimally invasive technique to help alleviate pain and bleeding associated with uterine fibroids. Under x-ray guidance, using sedation and a local anesthetic, a small catheter is advanced into the arteries that supply the fibroid tumors. Once in the position, small particles are injected into the blood vessel to block blood flow. This is referred to as embolization. Without blood flow, the fibroids infarct or die. The tumors then shrink over time and become scar tissue. Most women experience significant pain relief and reduction in bleeding within one month after the outpatient procedure.

Laser Vein Ablation – The unpleasant appearance of varicose veins is often bothersome, but many people have serious medical symptoms related to their varicose veins. Also, severe medical complications can arise if varicose veins are left untreated. Thus, our interventional radiologists perform Venous Ablation to help with these problems. Venous Ablation is an outpatient procedure performed in our physician’s office or in an outpatient setting that will help alleviate the symptoms of varicose veins. It works by using ultrasound guidance, allowing a thin laser fiber to be inserted into the vein. A highly concentrated beam of laser light is then emitted.

Hepatic Artery Chemoembolization – is a technique whereby the interventional radiologist places a small catheter through a tiny nick in the groin directly into the artery supplying the cancer. Through the catheter, concentrated chemicals suspended in oil are delivered regionally to “flood” the cancer. Once this is performed, small particles of dried alcohol are injected to “starve” the cancer of arterial flow and help prevent the chemo-products from washing out. This procedure is being used for primary liver cancers as well as cancers which spread to the liver (metastasis).

The procedure’s major strengths include its minimally invasive approach, which results in no significant scarring after the placement of a band-aid over the skin nick. With this technique, patients do not experience the usual side effects seen with systemic chemotherapy. It is typically a painless procedure with some associated nausea.

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) – is a technology that safely heats of “cooks” tumors using radiofrequency induced temperature changes. RFA produces heat-generated coagulation of targeted tissues resulting in tumor necrosis of tumor “death.” The procedure is performed under CT scan and Ultrasound guidance. Through a tiny nick in the skin in the right lower chest, a probe is placed directly into the liver tumor. Once in the proper position, the wires are deployed and the interstitial heating process begins. Heating is applied for about 10 minutes. The probe is withdrawn and the procedure is over. Subsequent CT scans are performed a few times a year to monitor results and for possible new growth. This technique is currently applied to monitor results and for possible new growth. This technique is currently applied to the liver only and is performed on patients who are otherwise poor surgical candidates or who do not wish to undergo major abdominal surgery. Patients with primary liver cancers as well as cancer that spread to the liver (metastasis) are considered candidates. The procedure’s major strength includes its minimally invasive approach without requiring open surgery. Like surgery, however, it is potentially curative.