What is Interventional Neuroradiology?

Interventional neuroradiology (INR) or endovascular surgical neuroradiology as a specialty has undergone rapid evolution during its short existence. Originally developed in the 1980’s by radiologists and neurological surgeons, INR is made possible by dramatic advances in computer technology and state-of-the-art equipment. Essentially, interventional neuroradiology therapies are accomplished through microcatheters inserted in the groin area and, under X-ray guidance, threaded through the blood vessels leading into the brain. Interventional neuroradiologists currently employ minimally invasive procedures to accomplish a wide variety of treatments including: stroke treatment by delivering clot-busting drugs directly to the site of the blockage; aneurysm therapy by inserting platinum coils into the aneurysm bulge to prevent clotting and rupture; and spinal treatments by injecting cement into a fractured vertebra in order to reinforce the bone.

How did Interventional Neuroradiology Develop?

Traditionally a consulting service, radiology as a medical specialty developed after the discovery of X-rays or Roentgen rays. Originally the purview of photographers, X-rays allowed physicians to create images of internal anatomy of the body without surgery. Today, tens of thousands of radiologists are regularly consulted to perform diagnostic procedures that are foundational to the medical practice of most all physicians in every specialty. While physical examination is the first step in the evaluation of any patient, the best examination skills cannot match the precision and accuracy of modern medical imaging in the diagnosis and characterization of anatomical anomalies or disease processes.

Interventional neuroradiology is a subspecialty discipline of radiology. Initially performing minimally invasive techniques utilizing x-ray fluoroscopy (“real-time” x-ray technology to monitor movement inside the body) and angiography (injection of x-ray contrast or “dye” to obtain pictures of blood vessel anatomy), radiologists have added ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and even magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to their arsenals. Such advanced technology allows the physician to visualize their operative procedures without making a skin incision to see inside the body.

How Can An Interventional Neuroradiologist Help Me?

Today, approximately 300 interventional neuroradiologists, endovascular neurosurgeons and interventional neurologists offer a wide variety of minimally invasive procedures to treat everything from stroke to spinal
compression fractures.

As compared to surgery, endovascular treatments often involve less risk and result in less pain and a faster recovery period.