Interventional radiology (abbreviated IR or VIR for Vascular and Interventional Radiology, also referred to as Surgical Radiology) is a medical sub-specialty of radiology which utilizes minimally-invasive image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat diseases in nearly every organ system. The concept behind interventional radiology is to diagnose and treat patients using the least invasive techniques currently available in order to minimize risk to the patient and improve health outcomes.
As the inventors of angioplasty and the catheter-delivered stent, interventional radiologists pioneered modern minimally-invasive medicine. Using X-rays, CT, ultrasound, MRI, and other imaging modalities, interventional radiologists obtain images which are then used to direct interventional instruments throughout the body. These procedures are usually performed using needles and narrow tubes called catheters, rather than by making large incisions into the body as in traditional surgery.
Many conditions that once required surgery can now be treated non-surgically by interventional radiologists. By minimizing the physical trauma to the patient, peripheral interventions can reduce infection rates and recovery time, as well as shorten hospital stays.