Minimally Invasive Treatments for Women
As vascular experts, interventional radiologists help women avoid needless suffering by providing advanced diagnosis and cutting-edge treatments. Interventional treatments are available for many misdiagnosed or under-treated conditions, such as chronic pelvic pain, continued deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and cardiovascular disease – the #1 killer of women. Compared to open surgery, interventional radiology procedures offer less risk, less pain and less recovery time.
Interventional radiologists offer new treatment options to patients who are not good surgical candidates. Treatments include radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which kills the tumor inside the body with heat, and cryoablation, which destroys cancer cells with an "ice ball." Additionally, physicians can inject high concentrations of chemotherapy into a tumor and then block its blood supply to starve it, a procedure known as chemoembolization.
RFA kills tumors with heat
Deep Vein Thrombosis
The formation of a blood clot, known as a thrombus, in a deep leg vein can be a very serious condition that can cause permanent circulatory damage to the leg, known as post-thrombotic syndrome. Early treatment with blood thinners is important to prevent a life-threatening pulmonary embolism, but it does not dissolve the existing clot. Women need to be aware that hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptives and pregnancy are risk factors for DVT. Learn more about this disease, including how to diagnose and treat it, in the deep vein thrombosis patient section.
Vertebroplasty is a pain treatment for vertebral compression fractures that fail to respond to conventional medical therapy, such as minimal or no pain relief with analgesics or narcotic doses that are intolerable. Vertebroplasty, a nonsurgical treatment performed by interventional radiologist using imaging for guidance, stabilizes the collapsed vertebra with the injection of medical-grade bone cement into the spine.
It is estimated that one-third of all women will experience chronic pelvic pain in their lifetimes. Many of these women are told the problem "is all in their head," but recent advancements now show the pain may be due to hard-to-detect varicose veins in the pelvic, known as pelvic congestion syndrome. The minimally invasive outpatient procedure seals the faulty vein using embolization.
Uterine fibroids are very common noncancerous (benign) growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. Although hysterectomy, performed by a gynecologist, is the most common treatment for symptomatic uterine fibroids, most women are candidates for uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a widely available nonsurgical option. UFE, also known as uterine artery embolization, blocks the blood flow to the fibroid tumor, causing it to shrink and symptoms to subside.
Interventional radiologist treats uterine fibroids nonsurgically with UFE
Venous insufficiency is an abnormal circulatory condition in which the valves in the vein that pump the blood back up to the heart become weak and don't close properly, thus allowing blood to flow backward down the leg (called reflux). Varicose veins are prominent veins that have lost their valve effectiveness and, as a result of dilation under pressure, become elongated, rope-like, bulged and thickened. Interventional radiologists treat varicose veins nonsurgically using vein ablation – sealing the faulty vein closed using heat.
Women and Vascular Disease
Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) – clogged or narrowed arteries in the legs – is a red flag that the same process may be going on elsewhere because atherosclerosis is a systemic disease and associated with other life-threatening diseases. Through early detection, the progression of vascular disease can be halted, saving women from future stroke, heart attack and early death if PAD is detected early. A simple ankle-brachial index (ABI) test compares the blood pressure in your arm with the blood pressure in your ankle and indicates if you have PAD.
Reprinted with permission of the Society of Interventional Radiology © 2004, www.SIRweb.org. All rights reserved.