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Hospital 101: What is Interventional Radiology?

Hospital 101: What is Interventional Radiology?

Interventional Radiology is a sub-specialty of radiology and utilizes minimally-invasive, image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat diseases in nearly every organ system. 

Text Box: Dr. Sean Pietrini, Interventional Radiologist, Advanced Radiology
Dr. Sean Pietrini, Interventional Radiologist, Advanced Radiology

We sat down with Interventional Radiologist Dr. Sean Pietrini of Advanced Radiology to learn more about this innovative service provided at Kearney Regional Medical Center.

How Does Interventional Radiology Work?

Interventional Radiology involves two distinct components. First is the diagnostic component. Using tools such as an X-ray, ultrasound, CT or other type of imaging service, Interventional Radiologists obtain images of the inside of the body.

After imaging, the physician then carefully interprets the images, looking for masses, or blockages, or other abnormalities in the patient’s body. “Then we can create a ‘roadmap’ for treatment,” says Dr. Pietrini.

When/Why Might Someone Utilize This Service?

“Anything that can’t be done by surgery, is too dangerous to be done by surgery, or medicine cannot fix – that is where we step in,” Dr. Pietrini says.

Is Interventional Radiology Safe?

Interventional Radiology procedures are minimally-invasive, meaning they are either non-surgical or require a very small incision no larger than the width of a scalpel.

Because procedures are minimally-invasive, very little medication/anesthesia is needed, allowing patients to go home sooner, often the same day as their procedure. At-home recovery time is also minimal.

What is Unique or Innovative About This Medical Specialty?

Interventional Radiology has been around since the 1960s but has become increasingly more relevant in the past 30 years as technology has advanced, says Dr. Pietrini.  

“Some days I kind of feel like a magician or a detective. I enjoy being able to utilize the vast amount of resources we have to solve problems in a unique way.”

Dr. Pietrini regularly collaborates with his partners, Drs. Budler, Himmelberg, Allen, and Pfeifer of Advanced Radiology, to identify ways of delivering the maximum benefit for their patients with the lowest risk. Dr. Pietrini says he feels good knowing his patients can receive the best outcome possible without the underlying risks of surgery.

Interventional Radiology Services at Kearney Regional Medical Center

Some common Interventional Radiology services provided at Kearney Regional Medical Center include:

  • Diagnostic procedures: biopsies of worrisome masses or tissue anywhere in the body, sampling of abnormal fluid.
  • Venous access: placing lines in the neck, chest, and arms for patients to receive IV medications or treatments such as dialysis; placing ports for patients to receive chemotherapy
  • Drain placement: placing drainage catheters in abscesses or organs with blockages (such as the kidney or bile ducts) to drain out infected fluid and spare patients from surgery
  • Dialysis/liver failure treatment: creating access points for dialysis treatment, creating shunts in the liver to relieve fluid build-up in the belly or stop bleeding varices in the esophagus
  • Vascular blockage treatments: breaking up clots in arteries and veins, inflating balloons (angioplasty) and/or putting stents in veins and arteries to open up blockages
  • Ablation of tumors or tissue: use of extreme heat (radiofrequency ablation) or cold (cryoablation) treatments to reduce pain and/or remove tumors
  • Embolization: using tiny particle, metal coils, or chemicals in arteries to kill tumors or stop life-threatening bleeding
  • Back pain treatment: epidural steroid injections, minimally-invasive surgery to treat spinal compression fracture (kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty)
  • Joint or tendon pain treatment: steroid injections into joints, using thermal ablation to break up scar tissue and relieve pain in damaged tendons (TENEX tenotomy)  

For a full list of Interventional Radiology services, visit advancedradiologygi.com or call 308-675-3211.