Interventional Radiology

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Interventional radiology uses imaging technology and minimally invasive techniques to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, from cancer and blood clots to uterine fibroids and spinal fractures. Our specially trained interventional radiologists have the expertise to handle the full range of conditions. In the past, most of these could only be treated by having major surgery. 

Our Interventional Radiology Locations

How Does Interventional Radiology Work?

Interventional radiology differs from other imaging services because it involves a minimally invasive procedure, which is accomplished through small incisions, to diagnose or treat a condition. For example, you may have a biopsy to diagnose cancer or a stent placed to open a blocked artery. Interventional radiologists -- doctors with special training in radiology-guided procedures -- use imaging technologies such as ultrasound, CT, MRI, or fluoroscopy during these procedures to help guide them. This helps to maximize precision and safety. Because these procedures are performed using minimally invasive techniques, you should experience less pain and a much faster recovery than with traditional surgery.

Who Needs Need Interventional Radiology?

You may be referred for interventional radiology to confirm, diagnosis, or treat a condition. Interventional radiologists focus treatments such as chemotherapy on affected areas while avoiding healthy tissue nearby. It can also be used to open blocked blood vessels, reinforce bone, insert a catheter or other device, and much more. The rate of complications from interventional radiology procedures is much lower than for traditional surgery, and there is rarely a need for a hospital stay.  

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The Interventional Radiology Process


How you prepare for your interventional radiology procedure depends on many factors, including the type of procedure you are having. In most cases, you will not be able to eat or drink for several hours before the procedure, and you may need someone to drive you home. Your provider will give you detailed instructions on how to prepare, what to expect, and how long it will take.

The Procedure

You will be asked to change into a gown and lie on a special table. You will receive an injection to numb the area where a small incision will be made. For most interventional radiology procedures, you receive moderate sedation, meaning that you could be awake but relaxed and unable to feel pain. Imaging technology, for example, an X-ray machine, will help guide the insertion of tools through the incision. The time required for interventional radiology procedures can vary from a few minutes for a feeding tube placement to several hours for treatment of a brain aneurysm.

After the Procedure

You will be taken to a recovery room and monitored closely. After a few hours, you can have someone drive you home and assist with post-procedure instructions.

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Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

Procedures We Perform

Duke offers hundreds of interventional radiology procedures, including rare ones only performed by a few places in the U.S. Examples include:

Heat, cold, or electricity and a needle are used to destroy benign and cancerous growths.

Angioplasty opens narrowed or blocked arteries, veins, bile ducts, and ureters using a small balloon and/or a stent. 

Abnormal tissues samples are taken from the liver, lungs, kidneys, or other parts of the body including bone and bone marrow to determine if cancer is present.

Catheter Insertion 
A catheter is inserted in a large vein for hemodialysis, to give chemotherapy medicines, to prepare for a bone marrow transplant, or for other reasons.

Embolization can be performed to stop blood flow to a specific area or to deliver chemotherapy or radiation to treat conditions such as vascular malformations, uterine fibroids, an enlarged prostate, and many types of cancer.

Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty
These procedures involve the injection of cement-like material to reinforce the spine and reduce pain.

A liquid is injected in a vein to treat arteriovenous malformations, some blood vessel tumors, and abnormal veins.

Getting Your Results

After your interventional radiology procedure, your interventional radiologist will meet with you and your family or caregiver to discuss the results and next steps. You may or may not need more tests or treatments. In some cases, as with a biopsy, your results may not be ready immediately. 

Your images, report, and test results will be also available through My Duke Health (previously Duke MyChart) for you to discuss with your doctor. Since you will be able to access your results as soon as they are available, you could see them in My Duke Health before your doctor has had a chance to look at them and explain them to you. If you prefer not to see your results before your doctor, let them know. They can request a delay in sending your information to your account until you have the chance to talk with them.

Why Choose Duke

Experts in Interventional Radiology

Our team of interventional radiology providers has expertise in all systems of the body. This allow us to treat a variety of complex conditions that historically required major surgery and to accept patients who may have been turned down for treatment at other centers. 

Advanced Treatments for Rare Conditions

Duke is committed to developing new interventional radiology tools and techniques to treat cancer, obesity, peripheral arterial disease, and other conditions. For example, we have developed innovative imaging techniques to detect and localize CFS leaks -- a relatively rare condition that causes debilitating headaches and other neurological symptoms -- as well as interventional radiology procedures to seal the leaks. For more than 10 years, Duke has been one of only a handful of centers in the country that has been treating this problem. 

Training for the Next Generation

Interventional radiology is a relatively new and evolving radiology specialty. For the past 20 years, we have been committed to training the next generation of interventional radiologists.

This page was medically reviewed on 10/20/2022 by