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Interventional Radiology Cancer Treatments


Interventional radiology techniques are quickly becoming standard therapies for many cancer patients. The interventional radiologists' arsenal of tools has become integral to tumor treatment, pain control and palliation.

In patients with primary or metastatic liver tumors, chemoembolization offers an alternative to patients who are not surgically resectable. This procedure involves placing a small tube or catheter into the artery supplying the liver. The small vessels in the liver are then partially blocked with small particles.  A mixture of chemotherapy is then injected followed by additional particles. This technique "sandwiches" the chemotherapy so that it remains in the liver, greatly increasing the effective dose of chemotherapy while at the same time decreasing the toxicity to the rest of the body.

Radiofrequency ablation of tumors is a new technique being used by interventional radiologists to destroy cancer deposits deep in the body without invasive surgery.  A thin needle is placed into a tumor using ultrasound guidance. Radio energy is emitted from the needle destroying the cancer. This technique is only used for small tumors in certain organs.


Radio-frequency ablation needle and equipment

In some patients, the tumors are large enough, or invasive enough to block off the bile ducts and gall bladder. These patients can be very uncomfortable due to pain, nausea and itching. Using X-ray guidance, an interventional radiologist can cross beyond the blockage and open a passage using balloon angioplasty and stent placement.

Kidneys can become blocked by tumors or kidney stones.  The standard treatment involves bypassing the blockage from below through the bladder.  This is done by a urologist.  If the blockage is too severe to be crossed in the standard fashion, an interventional radiologist can enter the kidney through the skin.  In the vast majority of patients, the blockage can then be crossed from above and a drainage tube or stent placed to allow drainage of urine into the bladder.  In the rare instance that the blockage is too severe, the interventional radiologist can place a tube in the kidney which can drain urine to the outside.

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