Vascular Interventional Radiology

Interventional radiology is often called the surgery of the new millennium. That’s because today it’s often used instead of traditional “open” surgery to treat many vascular (blood vessel-related) and nonvascular conditions throughout the entire body.

As a patient, you benefit from the reduced risk, shorter recovery times, less pain and improved outcomes that this minimally invasive approach offers.

Best of all, you don’t have to travel far to get the highest-quality interventional radiology care. UMass Memorial interventional radiologists have trained at some of the nation’s leading institutions – giving you Boston-caliber expertise, conveniently close to home.

How Does Vascular Interventional Radiology Work?

Interventional radiologists – physicians with extra training in this advanced specialty – use imaging equipment such as ultrasound, MRI and CT scanners to look inside the body and guide tiny catheters or needles to the site of a medical problem.

Once at the site, the catheters can do what a surgeon’s hands might traditionally do – but without a large incision. In some cases, interventional radiologists can even perform procedures that aren’t possible with traditional surgery. For example, they can:

  • Eliminate tumors without damaging the surrounding tissue
  • Open up blocked blood vessels
  • Perform biopsies using needles instead of scalpels

Vascular interventional radiology procedures are often called endovascular treatments because they take place inside (endo) a blood vessel (vascular).

The Interventional Radiology Procedures Available at UMass Memorial

Our interventional radiologists provide a full range of vascular and nonvascular interventional procedures on our University and Memorial campuses. Each campus is equipped with a state-of-the-art interventional radiology suite, which facilitates a rapid and safe procedure using the latest computerized 3D image guidance. Procedures performed by our team include:

  • Interventional oncology – Endovascular therapies to treat cancer
    • Yttrium-90 – A catheter delivers tiny radioactive beads directly to a tumor through the bloodstream
    • TACE (transarterial chemoembolization) – Involves blocking (embolizing) blood vessels to cut off the blood supply to a tumor while directly injecting it with high doses of cancer-killing drugs (chemotherapy)
    • TAE (transarterial embolization) – Blocks blood vessels to cut off the blood supply to a tumor without the use of chemotherapy
    • Radiofrequency ablation – A probe delivers high-frequency electrical current to the site of a tumor, generating heat that destroys the cancerous tissue
  • Women’s health – Embolization to block the blood supply to and shrink uterine fibroids
  • Men’s health – Embolization to treat varicoceles (a mass of varicose veins in the spermatic cord, which connect the testicles to the abdominal cavity)
  • Venous access/chest ports – Portacath placement for chemotherapy, total parenteral nutrition and antibiotic delivery, eliminating the need for repeated needle sticks
  • IVC filters– Inferior vena cava filter placement to “catch” blood clots and prevent them from traveling to the lungs
  • Thrombolysis – Breaking up and dissolving blood clots by delivering clot-busting medication through a catheter directly to the site of a thrombus (blood clot)
  • Venous stenting – Placing stents (tiny “scaffolds” that prop open narrowed blood vessels) to treat deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Image-guided biopsy – Nonsurgical needle biopsies, replacing the need for surgical biopsy
  • Image-guided drainage – Aspiration (drainage) of abscesses and abnormal fluid collections

The Benefits of Interventional Radiology

Because it is so minimally invasive – using tiny incisions that generally require no stitches – interventional radiology offers tremendous benefits compared to open surgery:

  • Less risk of complications, including infection, since there is no large incision
  • Recovery times are faster
  • Many procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis, saving you time and the costs of an overnight hospital stay

Why Choose UMass Memorial for Interventional Radiology?

  • You get Boston-caliber expertise without having to travel into Boston.
  • Unlike most interventional radiology practices that simply perform procedures, we provide comprehensive pre- and post-procedure care through our outpatient clinic.
  • We are the most experienced interventional radiology team in the region, performing approximately 3,400 procedures a year.
  • We have particular expertise in treating liver cancer and are part of an entire team of specialists who meet weekly to discuss each patient’s care.