Minimally invasive approaches occur through the integration of image-guidance (ultrasound, CT, MRI) and procedural techniques. Interventional radiology specializes in cancer diagnosis and treatment through outpatient, minimally invasive approaches.

Biopsies: Using ultrasound and CT guidance, we can guide small needles to obtain tissue samples throughout the body. The imaging allows for precise needle placement, and the small needle size reduces the risk of complication. The tissue is then reviewed at the time of biopsy by a pathologist to make sure it is adequate for diagnosis.

Tumor ablation: When a patient has a small tumor in organs such as the liver or kidney that cannot be removed with surgery, tumor ablation may be an option. This involves placing a small needle or probe into the tumor with ultrasound and/or CT guidance and using heat to cause irreversible tissue damage or ethanol to cause immediate tumor death. Patients are typically able to be discharged on the same day of the procedure.

Chemoembolization: Tiny beads mixed with chemotherapy are delivered through a small catheter in the groin or wrist directly into the arteries feeding liver tumors. These beads block blood supply to the tumor and deliver chemotherapy directly to the tumor to cause tumor death. Our new GE angiography suite allows us to use the latest technology for accurate delivery. Most of our patients can be discharged on the day of therapy, but occasionally overnight observation for pain control may be needed.

Radioembolization: For patients with a larger amount of tumor within the liver, small beads loaded with radiation (the isotope Yttrium-90) can be delivered through a small catheter in the groin or wrist into the arteries feeding the tumors. This involves two outpatient procedures. The first procedure is a planning procedure to help us determine where to treat and that the treatment will be safe. The second procedure is the actual treatment. Patients are usually with us in the morning and are discharged mid-afternoon. Some patients may feel like they have the flu after the procedure, but this typically lasts for only three to five days.

Pain palliation: Pain management is an essential part of cancer management, and there are a variety of procedures we can offer to reduce pain and limit pain medications. For patients with painful tumors within bones, tumor ablation and reinforcement of the bone with cement can offer almost immediate relief. Also, we can use image guidance to inject medications through a tiny needle to block pain nerves. Our pain procedures typically take less than an hour and are outpatient procedures.

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