28 January, 2019

What is Interventional Radiology?

           A few years ago, I became paralyzed in my right shoulder. It was shortly after I suffered a small tear in my rotator cuff, thanks to the repetitive lifting of one active, beefy toddler. Although the tear itself was not significant enough to require medical attention, I gradually began to lose movement in the shoulder, until I could no longer use my arm at all. I discovered that I suffered something called “frozen shoulder,” a not-uncommon side effect of muscle tears and other various injuries to the joints. And while there was little I could do to slow down my rambunctious toddler, I found the cure for my shoulder through the innovative terrain of Interventional Radiology.

            Also known as IR, Interventional Radiology is loosely defined by its minimally invasive imaging-guided diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.  Many medical conditions addressed by IR once required open surgery but because the Interventional Radiologist is able to harness the power of advanced imaging (CT, MRI, Ultrasound, and other innovative modalities), they are able to see inside your body and treat complex conditions – even cardiovascular disease and cancer – with only a tiny incision. The scope of ailments and treatments IR is capable of addressing is so vast that even Interventional Radiologists themselves find it difficult to give a concise explanation of all that IR can do.

            My frozen shoulder, for example, would fall under the category of Pain Management Procedures, one of the many aspects of IR. I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Kenneth Chin at San Fernando Valley Interventional Radiology & Imaging Center and was quickly ushered into a state-of-the-art procedure room. It was sort of like an operating room at a hospital, but much cooler. There were robotic arms connected to computers, high-tech monitors, bright lights, and music pumping through a small speaker. Dr. Chin is competent and affable and I immediately felt at ease under his expertise. Like all of RadNet’s Interventional Radiologists, Dr. Chin is fellowship trained and board certified.

            To treat my shoulder, Dr. Chin ran a catheter into the joint, delivering a cocktail of various medications. As he did so, he observed the inside of my shoulder via ultrasound, making sure the medications hit the precise location to deliver maximum results. Once the medications began circulating through the joint, Dr. Chin began slowly moving my arm, and though I had been in pain for months and had been unable to move it myself, I felt no discomfort whatsoever. When the brief procedure was over, I was surprised to find that I could actually move my arm!

            Dr. Chin reports that he sees similar results with patients who experience chronic and severe back pain as well as pain in other joints as well.

            But pain management is only one component of Interventional Radiology. Interventional Radiologists work across the body to deliver minimally invasive procedures for many conditions from image-guided biopsies to fibroid embolizations, port placement to fertility procedures – in addition to treatments for lungs, veins, brain aneurysms, cancer – and much more!

            Dr. Amir Kashefi, who also sees patients at San Fernando Valley Interventional & Imaging Center, says that the field of IR is always growing, adding new and exciting procedures, many of which he plans to introduce at San Fernando Valley Interventional.

            The added benefit of being a patient at San Fernando Valley Interventional, as opposed to having my procedure done in a hospital, was how easy it was to get in and out. A one-hour procedure in a hospital can take the better part of an entire day as you weave through the maze of paperwork and nurses and exam rooms and waiting rooms – whereas at San Fernando Valley Interventional, I was taken into my exam promptly and when I was finished, I simply went home. And when I got home, I picked up my toddler again – because I could.

            RadNet has several other locations offering Interventional Radiology, in Palm Desert, Victor Valley, as well as the San Fernando Valley.

28 January, 2019


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