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Interventional Radiology Services


NCH Interventional Radiology procedures include:

(click on procedure name for more details)


Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure to treat painful spinal vertebral compression fractures. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, Osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease, affects 10 million people in the United States. Each year, osteoporosis leads to 700,000 painful spinal vertebral compression fractures (collapse of the weakened bone). Although in most people the fracture heals on its own and the pain goes away and in others pain persists. This is probably because the crushed bone doesn't fully heal and continues to move.

Vertebroplasty involves injecting medical cement into the fragile fracture site. It will harden and permanently stabilize the fracture, thereby improving or relieving back pain. Most patients treated with vertebroplasty will have complete or significant reduction of their pain.

Your back pain may be relieved immediately or within a few days. If not, you may need to be re-evaluated by your referring physician for new fractures or other possible causes of pain. There is a possibility that similar pain can occur in different location. This indicates that you may have developed another fracture. If so, you should contact us for further evaluation and treatment.


Kyphoplasty is a technique related to Vertebroplasty. The procedure differs in that a specialized balloon is placed into the fractured bone prior to cement injection to better expand a compressed bone and create space into which to deposit the cement.

Kyphoplasty is also used to treat painful compression fractures of the spine. Potential candidates are evaluated prior to any procedure by our interventional radiologists.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Uterine Fibroid Embolization or (UFE) is a non-surgical, uterus sparing procedure that treats symptomatic fibroids performed by an interventional radiologist. You may be a candidate for uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), also known as uterine artery embolization (UAE), if you fit into any of the following categories:

  • Women who are experiencing the symptoms of uterine fibroids
  • Women who do not desire future fertility

  • Women who want to retain their uterus, and so are pursuing hysterectomy alternatives
  • Women who do not desire surgery
  • Women who may be poor surgical candidates; i.e. obesity, bleeding disorders, anemia
  • Women who are not pregnant

Once you have determined that you may be a candidate for uterine artery embolization, then you will need some physician input to help you decide how to best treat your uterine fibroids. A consultation with an Interventional Radiologist will educate you on how he or she coordinates your care with an Obstetrical/Gynecologist. The role of the Interventional Radiologist is to be the specialist in this procedure; providing you clinical information regarding how uterine artery embolization works to treat symptomatic fibroids.

The Interventional Radiologist also serves as your immediate post-procedure contact for any questions or concerns. Your Gynecologist remains the primary caregiver for your reproductive health. The Gynecologist also provides the pre-procedure test required before uterine artery embolization. Results of these tests are shared with the Interventional Radiologist. Working together, your Interventional Radiologist and Gynecologist provide you the best possible care for your symptomatic uterine fibroids.


Chemoembolization is most beneficial to patients whose malignancy is limited to the liver. This can be primary liver cancer or metastatic disease to the liver. Chemembolization works by supplying a high concentration of chemotherapy and embolic agents directly into the tumor. This technique allows for a treatment that can be focused on cancerous cells that have spread to the liver and does not expose the rest of the body to the chemotherapy.

The success of chemembolization often depends on the size and extent of the tumor being treated. Chemembolization is not a cure but can help prevent tumor growth and potentially preserve liver function. It can often destroy 70 to 90% of a tumor.

The procedure involves placement of a catheter in the femoral artery which is then guided by fluoroscopy into the hepatic arteries. (These arteries supply blood to the liver). Contrast material is then injected via the catheter to opacify the arteries feeding the tumor. The chemotherapeutic and embolic agents are then injected into these vessels.

In order to prevent liver damage and maximize effectiveness, only a portion of the liver is treated at one time. Depending on the number and type of malignancies, chemoembolization may be combined with of treatment options such as surgery, radiofrequency ablation, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Radiofrequency Ablation (RF Ablation)

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive technique to treat tumors in solid organs. Radiofrequency ablation involves placement of an electrode into the tumor. Electrical current at radiofreqency wave lengths then pass between the needle electrode and grounding pads that have been placed on the patient’s skin. This creates a current around the electrode and within the tumor that destroys the tumor tissue.

The most common use for radiofrequency ablation is in the treatment of primarily liver tumors or metastatic liver tumors. It can also be used to treat tumors of the lung, bone, and kidney. Radiofrequency ablation can be an effective treatment option for those patients who are not candidates for surgery or who have failed chemotherapy. Complete destruction of the tumor can not be guaranteed and the procedure is more effective with smaller tumors.

Varicose Vein Ablation

Varicose veins are abnormal veins that can occur in the legs. They can be small, thin purple-colored lines (called "spider veins") that lie just below the skin surface, or they can appear as thick, bulging or knotty veins. People with varicose veins frequently say that their legs feel "full" or tired, or are heavy, itch or throb. Varicose veins can be painful. Sometimes people with varicose veins experience swelling of the legs or ankles.

Varicose veins are a common medical condition. It is estimated that 25 million people in the United States suffer from painful symptoms of varicose veins. While many people think that varicose veins are simply a cosmetic issue, there is in fact often an underlying medical problem that causes varicose veins. This medical condition is called venous reflux disease.

Venous reflux disease is the impaired return of venous blood from the legs and feet, often manifesting as varicose veins, swollen ankles, aching legs, skin changes or venous ulcers. In many cases, venous reflux disease is the result of over-dilation of the venous vessels in the legs. This dilation eventually prevents the valve cusps from closing properly resulting in reflux. The pooling of blood results in ineffective flow back to the heart.

Traditionally patients diagnosed with venous reflux would undergo varicose vein stripping surgery. By surgically removing (stripping) the troublesome varicose vein from your leg. Now, patients can be treated with the Venus Closure procedure -- by closing the diseased vein instead of painful vein stripping surgery. This procedure is fast, is performed while you're awake and typically allows you to return to normal activities the next day.

Virtual Colonoscopy (CT Colonography)

CT colonography uses CT scanning to obtain an interior view of the colon (the large intestine) that is otherwise only seen with a more invasive procedure where an endoscope is inserted into the rectum.

The major reason for performing CT colonography is to screen for polyps and other lesions in the large intestine. Polyps are growths that arise from the inner lining of the intestine. Some polyps may grow and turn into cancers.

The goal of screening with colonography is to find these growths in their early stages, so that they can be removed before cancer has had a chance to develop. Most physicians agree that everyone older than 50 years should be screened for polyps every seven to 10 years. Individuals at increased risk should be screened every five years and may start screening at age 40 or younger. Risk factors for the disease include a history of polyps, a family history of colon cancer, or the presence of blood in the stool.

Read more about Interventional Radiology at NCH.

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Last Updated 04/10/2009