What is interventional radiology?
Our interventional radiology team provides minimally-invasive treatments, performs procedures to manage pain and complications, performs biopsies, and alleviates a variety of symptoms that can occur during cancer treatment.
Interventional radiology can be used in the management of metastatic disease from cancers such as colon, rectal, breast, gallbladder, pancreas, lung, esophageal, gastric, melanoma, and sarcomas. In these cases, we can perform Y90 radioembolization and chemoembolization for liver metastases. We can also perform ablation for isolated metastases to the liver, lung, adrenal gland, bone, kidney, and other soft tissues.
Our priority is to treat you with the most effective, least invasive treatments available for your cancer type. Common interventional radiology procedures include:
- Tumor ablation procedures: These minimally invasive treatments destroy tissue using extreme temperatures. Ablation may be used to treat tumors or to alleviate blockages and other symptoms. Examples of ablation procedures we perform are radiofrequency ablation, microwave ablation and NanoKnife®.
- Liver-directed therapies: We can deliver targeted treatment directly to liver tumors, sparing nearby healthy tissue and minimizing some side effects. Some therapies we use to treat liver tumors include Yttrium-90 radioembolization (SIR-Spheres® or TheraSphere®) and chemoembolization.
- Bone and joint pain management: A variety of bone and joint injections, nerve blocks and fracture management techniques provide relief from pain.
- Vascular work: Our team uses minimally invasive techniques to place stents, stop bleeding and block the flow of blood to or from tumor tissue to support chemotherapy and radiation treatment response.
- Drainage catheters: Fluid retention is a common side effect of some types of cancer. Catheters are used to drain excess fluid and relieve uncomfortable symptoms.
- Port and PICC Line Placement: Many patients are given temporary ports and PICC lines to minimize the number of needle pricks during chemotherapy treatment or diagnostic blood work.
Most procedures are done on an outpatient basis or during a short hospital stay.
Video: Radiologists & Interventional RadiologistsDr. Timothy McCay explains what radiologists and interventional radiologists are. He discusses some of the diagnostic imaging tests radiologists analyze and procedures interventional radiologists perform.
Interventional radiology for metastatic stomach cancer to the liver
In some cases, stomach cancer becomes advanced and metastasizes (spreads) to the liver. Our Interventional Radiology Program offers advanced treatments and procedures which are liver-directed or tumor-directed, including the following:
TheraSphere or SIR-Spheres: These innovative treatments use tiny beads called microspheres to deliver radiation directly to tumors in the liver. Measuring one-third the diameter of a human hair, the tiny microspheres are embedded with a radioactive element to help kill cancer cells.
The radiation therapy is delivered to a tumor through a catheter a physician guides into the hepatic artery, the liver’s main blood vessel. Once in place, the microspheres are inserted into the catheter, where they can enter the smaller blood vessels supplying the liver tumor and block the flow of blood. Then, the microspheres emit radiation to destroy cancer cells in the tumor, while sparing healthy liver tissue.
Chemoembolization: With this treatment, chemotherapy drugs are delivered directly to a liver tumor. This delivery method minimizes side effects, like nausea and vomiting, and maximizes the cancer-killing properties of the drugs.
During the procedure, chemotherapy is injected through a catheter directly into a liver tumor using image guidance. The chemotherapy drugs are mixed with microspheres, which block the flow of blood to the tumor. Without a blood supply, the tumor no longer has the oxygen and nutrients it needs to grow.
Chemoembolization allows high doses of chemotherapy drugs to be targeted directly to the cancerous portion of the liver for a longer period of time, without exposing the entire body to the effect of the drugs.
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA): This treatment leverages the power of microwave technology to help destroy stomach cancer that has spread to the liver. RFA helps our surgeons and radiologists eliminate small liver tumors, often without the risks and discomfort associated with traditional surgery. RFA is also less invasive and less painful.