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Interventional Radiology

Interventional Procedures

The interventional radiology experts practicing at Detroit Medical Center are part of a multidisciplinary team of physicians. They combine advanced imaging techniques with minimally invasive, targeted procedures to diagnose and treat a wide range of diseases without surgery.

The minimally invasive procedures performed at DMC typically have less risk, less pain and shorter recovery times than open surgery. General anesthesia is usually not required. Many vascular and non-vascular procedures that were previously performed with open surgery are now performed in a state-of-the-art Interventional Radiology suite — usually on an outpatient basis.

But interventional radiologists do more than just perform procedures — they are part of a multidisciplinary team that cares for patients with extensive pre-procedure exams and post-procedure follow ups. Through an affiliation with Wayne State University School of Medicine, these physicians conduct important research and train other physicians in the latest interventional radiology techniques.

Vascular Interventions

Vascular interventions are minimally invasive interventional radiology procedures performed inside the blood vessels of the body. Interventional radiologists perform many types of vascular interventions, including:

Angiography is an x-ray imaging procedure which is used to diagnose blockages and other problems in arteries and veins. Using a catheter, the physician injects a contrast agent (x-ray dye) to render selected blood vessels visible by x-ray. A variety of specialized procedures can be performed using angiography to treat diseases of the vascular system.

Balloon Angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure to open blocked or narrowed blood vessels. Using a catheter, the interventional radiologist inserts a very small balloon into the blood vessel and inflates it. Balloon angioplasty can be used to unblock arteries in the legs, arms, kidneys, brain and other parts of the body.

Endovascular Stents are small, flexible tubes (metal wire mesh) that can be inserted into blood vessels and positioned to hold open clogged or narrowed areas. One type of endovascular stent procedure (a stent-graft procedure) calls for the physician to reinforce a ruptured or ballooning section of an artery (aneurysm) with a small, fabric-wrapped stent. Other endovascular stenting procedures include peripheral endovascular stenting and aortic stent grafts. These stent graft procedures have revolutionized the treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysms, reducing the severity and duration of the procedure and improving outcomes. Aortic stent graft procedures are performed in conjunction with a vascular surgeon.

Renal Artery Angioplasty is a form of balloon angioplasty that is used to open blocked renal arteries. Improvement in renal function and high blood pressure following renal artery angioplasty are equivalent to surgical therapy.

Thrombolysis — Using a catheter and imaging technology, the physician locates a blood clot in a vessel and injects clot-dissolving drugs directly to the site of the clot.

Embolization — Using a catheter and imaging technology, the physician delivers clotting agents (coils, plastic particles, gel, foam or glue) directly to the blood vessel. The technique is used to stop bleeding vessels and also to block the flow of blood to problem areas such as bleeding aneurysms, tumors and arteriovenous malformations.

Tumor Ablation — Using radiofrequency (RF) energy and imaging technology, the interventional radiologist can locate and destroy cancerous tumors without open surgery.

Uterine Artery Embolization — Uterine fibroids sometimes cause pain and excessive bleeding. Uterine Artery Embolization is a minimally invasive treatment for these uterine fibroids. For many women, it is an excellent alternative to hysterectomy. This interventional radiology treatment cuts off the blood supply to uterine fibroids, causing them to shrink. This usually reduces symptoms caused by the fibroids.

Vena Cava Filters are tiny filters inserted into blood vessels to prevent lung blood clots. The filter – usually made of a stainless steel alloy or an alloy of nickel and titanium – is positioned in a large vein to prevent clots from reaching the heart or lungs.

Laser Vein Ablation — The interventional radiologists at Harper University Hospital provide expert treatment of varicose veins without surgery. With Laser Vein Ablation, the physician inserts a tiny catheter and laser fiber into a blood vessel. No stitches are necessary. Using advanced imaging technology, the physician locates the varicose veins and then uses a laser inside the veins to deliver energy to the appropriate tissue. This causes the vein to close and the patient's body automatically reroutes blood to other healthier veins. Laser Vein Ablation takes about 45 minutes and most patients are able to walk out of the doctor's office immediately after the procedure.

Non-vascular Interventions

Non-vascular interventions are minimally invasive interventional radiology procedures that do not involve blood vessels. The physician uses imaging technology to guide instruments inside the body without open surgery. Interventional radiologists perform many types of non-vascular interventions, including:

Abscess/Fluid Drainage —Interventional radiologists often use ultrasound and CT scans to guide catheter (tube) placement to drain abscesses and other fluid collections. Imaging technology is also used for biopsies of deep tumors in the chest, abdomen and pelvis.

Biliary Drainage — In this procedure, the physician uses a stent (a small tube) to open blocked bile ducts. This allows bile to drain from the liver and relieves jaundice. Click here for a brochure about Biliary Drainage Services at DMC.

Feeding Tubes — Interventional radiologists are often called to place feeding tubes in patients who cannot eat or swallow due to stroke, head injury or head and neck tumors. With imaging guidance, the interventional radiologist inserts a small needle through the skin of the abdomen and guides a catheter into the patient's stomach or small intestine. With the catheter in place, physicians are able to provide life-sustaining nourishment and medications to the patient.

Regional Oncology Therapy — Interventional radiology procedures are expanding as an option for regional cancer therapy. Using a catheter and guidewire, radiofrequency (RF) energy can be directed to a cancerous tumor. This technique is often used in the treatment of liver, lung and bone tumors and can result in a reduced hospital stay and reduced complications. With imaging guidance, the physician inserts a probe into the tumor and heats the cancer to 60 degrees C, the temperature at which cell death occurs. Sometimes cryoablation — the freezing of cancer cells — is used instead RF energy.

In addition to these regional oncology therapies, arterial embolization is sometimes performed to decrease blood flow to a tumor. This technique can be used alone as a cancer therapy or to minimize bleeding in combination with other interventional radiology procedures.

Urinary Interventions — Interventional radiologists can perform a variety of specialized procedures to treat urinary obstructions, including kidney stones. The physician uses imaging technology and guides a catheter into the appropriate position to drain or bypass a urinary tract obstruction. Once in the proper position, ureteral stenting or stone removal can be performed through the catheter.

Vertebral Compression Fractures — For many people with osteoporosis, a spinal fracture means severely limited activity and nearly constant pain. But a new, non-surgical interventional radiology treatment called vertebroplasty is extremely effective in reducing or eliminating pain caused by spinal fractures.

Vertebroplasty is performed using imaging guidance by interventional radiologists. The procedure stabilizes the collapsed vertebra with the injection of medical-grade bone cement into the collapsed vertebra. The procedure often provides substantial pain relief and is an excellent alternative to surgical and conventional medical therapy.

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