Women can encounter distinct health concerns related to infertility, gynecological conditions and pelvic floor disorders. Fortunately, interventional radiology services can treat these conditions using advanced medical imaging and minimally invasive procedures that often involve less pain and shorter recovery periods than open surgery.

What is interventional radiology?

Interventional radiology (IR) is a medical specialty that utilizes advanced imaging techniques such as X-rays, CT scans, MRI, and ultrasound to guide minimally invasive procedures for diagnosing and treating various medical conditions. Interventional radiologists are specially trained physicians who perform these procedures, often using thin, flexible catheters and other small instruments that are inserted through the skin and guided to the target area with the help of real-time imaging.

What conditions can be treated?

With advances in technology, women now have the option of being treated with interventional radiology as opposed to traditional surgery or medication for certain conditions.

“At Mather Hospital, our interventional radiologists are committed to women’s health, offering the expertise and highest quality of care to provide women in our community with a variety of minimally invasive procedures,” says Director of Interventional Radiology Mohammad Bilal, MD, DABR.

Common conditions women face that can be treated by interventional radiology include:

  • Uterine fibroids: Benign tumors that grow in the muscle cells of the uterus, affecting a woman’s period. This can cause pelvic cramping, heavy bleeding, frequent urination, and lower back pain.
  • Pelvic congestion syndrome: A condition which involves chronic pelvic pain that persists for six months or longer.
  • Infertility: A condition in which one is unable to get pregnant after six to 12 months of regular sexual intercourse without the use of any birth control.

What are the treatment options using interventional radiology?

After consulting with your gynecologist and interventional radiologist, some treatment options using interventional radiology may include:

  • Embolization: This type of procedure is used to treat various conditions by blocking or reducing blood flow to a targeted area of the body.
  • Embolization for uterine fibroids: Under X-ray guidance and sedation, a thin catheter will be guided through the blood vessels to the specific artery supplying blood to the fibroid. The doctor will release small particles into the targeted location to block the small vessels, depriving the fibroid of nutrients and causing it to shrink over time. This procedure is an alternative to a major surgery such as a hysterectomy or myomectomy.
  • Embolization for pelvic congestion syndrome: A small incision is made in your upper thigh or groin where a catheter is inserted, using image guidance, to reach the affected pelvis veins. Once the catheter is in place, small embolic agents like tiny coils, plugs or foam are injected into the veins to close them off.
  • Fallopian tube recanalization: This procedure may be an option for those suffering with infertility due to blockage of the fallopian tube(s). For this type of procedure, a catheter is inserted via a speculum through the cervix and into the uterus. A contrast agent or dye is then injected through the catheter to determine if there is a blockage of the fallopian tubes. If a blockage is detected, another catheter will be inserted into the fallopian tube to open the blockage. This procedure can be an alternative to in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Interventional radiology is a game-changing field in women’s health care, offering a diverse array of minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat a wide spectrum of conditions. By combining cutting-edge technology with skilled expertise, interventional radiologists are empowering women with effective, safer, and more efficient treatment options.