Interventional Procedures

The Basics of an Interventional Procedure

Interventional radiology procedures typically involve the use of an imaging “modality” (e.g., ultrasound, fluoroscopy, CT, MRI) to guide the internal placement of a medical device (e.g, needle, catheter) to assist in the diagnosis (e.g., a biopsy) or treatment (e.g., a drainage) of a particular health problem. Breast biopsies (which test suspicious masses for cancer) and PICC line placements (which typically are used to provide easy IV access for patients on mid- to longer-term antibiotics) are among the most common interventional procedures performed.

All of our interventional procedures are designed to minimize the level of invasiveness and maximize safety. The majority of these procedures have evolved over time as an alternative to more invasive surgery.

Interventional procedures performed at our Salem include:

• Abdominal paracentesis
• CT-guided biopsies (liver, lung, kidney, bone, muscle)
• CT-guided arthrograms (knee, hip, shoulder)
• CT-guided steroid injections (hip, shoulder)
• Cyst aspirations and abscess drainages
• PICC line insertion and removal
• Stereotactic-guided breast biopsy
• Thoracentesis
• Thyroid biopsies and aspirations
• Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy

Patient Preparation

Please avoid eating or drinking for 4 to 8 hours prior to your interventional procedure. Given the wide range of exams listed above, our staff will inform you of any other steps you should take prior to your procedure at the time your appointment is scheduled but typically no other physical preparation is required. As always, please bring copies of any prior exams or related studies from other locations. And, please remember to bring a copy of your insurance card with you.

What can I expect from an interventional procedure?

Interventional procedures do involve a needle insertion or a small incision (e.g., for catheter placement) so our clinical team will usually administer a local anesthetic for pain management. These exams are typically performed in tandem by both a radiology practitioner assistant (RPA) and a radiologist. The RPA or radiologist will explain exactly how the procedure will work and what you should do following the procedure. Rest and OTC pain management is usually all that is required.

Length of Exam

Interventional procedures can range from 30 to 90 minutes depending on the exam. When scheduling your appointment, please feel free to ask to speak to one of our technologists or radiology practitioner Assistants to get a better idea of the time required for your particular procedure.

Obtaining the Results

You should always consult with your doctor to obtain the results of your exam.  Interventional procedures often involve more direct consultative communication between your doctor and our radiologist than many other radiological exams. This is because there is generally a very specific problem or question your doctor is seeking to address promptly and the results in turn are typically desired in a more timely fashion than some other exams. The nature and timing of the communication (and the radiologist’s final transcribed report) will vary depending on the exam. For certain diagnostic exams (e.g., a biopsy), a specimen obtained during the interventional procedure will be sent out and analyzed by a qualified lab. The results of the lab work will be shared with your doctor as well as the radiologist and if appropriate, incorporated into a final report by the radiologist.