Interventional radiology (IR) is a branch of radiology that uses medical imaging and small tools to diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions.
Interventional radiology procedures are called "minimally invasive" because, unlike traditional open surgery, they are performed through small incisions or cuts (usually less than 1 inch). In general, patients who have minimally invasive procedures have less pain, shorter hospital stays and quicker recoveries than patients who have traditional surgery.
When you have an interventional radiology procedure, an interventional radiologist (a specialty doctor who has completed extra training in interventional radiology) uses X-rays and other advanced imaging techniques to see inside your body. These images help the doctor guide small tools such as catheters, needles and stents to the areas that need treatment.
In recent years, interventional radiology has added to or replaced many former surgical procedures, helping to improve patient care, minimize inpatient stays and facilitate recovery.