Vascular and Interventional Radiology

Vascular and interventional radiology, a subspecialty of radiology, involves performing minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat disease. Most interventional radiology procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, using a local anesthetic or moderate sedation. Many procedures performed by interventional radiologists today are an alternative to traditional surgery, which requires general anesthesia and often a large incision. 

Vascular and interventional radiologists are physicians who use their expertise in interpreting images — X-rays, fluoroscopy, ultrasound and CT — to guide catheters and other instruments through blood vessels or other pathways in the body. Imaging allows interventional radiologists to precisely locate targeted areas to perform a procedure. These minimally invasive methods of diagnosing and treating problems are usually easier for patients because they involve no large incisions, cause less pain than surgery and have shorter recovery times. 

About 75 percent of the interventional radiology procedures at Froedtert & the Medical College are performed to treat a problem, and 25 percent are performed to diagnose a problem. Four full-time interventional radiologists work with other Medical College of Wisconsin specialists in multidisciplinary care teams. Team members determine the best treatment options for each patient, which may involve an interventional radiology procedure or other treatment. 

All of the vascular and interventional radiologists at Froedtert & the Medical College are fellowship-trained and have been awarded certificates of added qualification (CAQs) by the American Board of Radiology for successfully completing an exam in their subspecialty field. The interventional radiology section directs the only fellowship training program of its kind in Milwaukee.

Medical College of Wisconsin interventional radiologists are nationally and internationally recognized for research, and are leading the way in clinical trials to treat cancer using various interventional therapies.

Technology for Interventional Radiology

Most vascular (blood vessel) interventional radiology procedures use a combination of real-time fluoroscopy with digital subtraction angiography (DSA). In DSA, images of an area of the body are taken in a digital format through a computer. The computer can subtract (remove) various structures in an image to show only the blood vessels. Access to veins and arteries is also performed with ultrasound guidance.

Cancer treatment interventions are performed using computed tomography (CT) guidance as well as fluoroscopic and angiographic guidance.

Interventional Radiology Procedures

At Froedtert & the Medical College, a wide range of vascular and interventional radiology procedures are performed to treat cancer, spinal fractures, uterine fibroids and vascular disease. Procedures include: