Interventional Radiology

Interventional radiology is a sub-speciality used to diagnose or treat abnormalities throughout the body. CT, fluoroscopy, mammography, MRI or ultrasound is used to guide needle or catheter (a narrow tube) placement. Interventional radiology can be used to diagnose or treat many conditions that once required surgery.

Advantages of interventional radiology:

  • Most procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis
  • General anaesthesia usually is not required.
  • Infection risk, pain and recovery time are significantly reduced, and
  • Procedure cost is much less compared with surgery


Before you interventional procedure

We will provide you with detailed information about the procedure your doctor has requested, when you make your appointment. Please bring any relevant medical images with you, so we can review your medical information beforehand.

In many cases there is no preparation required for interventional procedures.

One of our staff will explain the procedure to you in detail and give you the opportunity to ask any relevant questions. You’ll be asked to read and sign a consent form before the procedure. Depending on the region of interest and the imaging modality, you may be asked to remove jewellery, or clothing with metal clips, zips or buttons as these show up on x-rays. If you need to remove any clothing you will be given a gown to wear.

During your interventional procedure

Generally, the procedure follows this process:

You will lie on a couch in a position that enables optimal visualization of the area of interest, and you may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds, to reduce movement. The length of the examination varies on the procedure and the body part, but you should expect to be with us for between 30–60 minutes. If you need a more specific time, ask the person who books your appointment.

The needle or catheter insertion might cause some discomfort. If the radiologist believes it will reduce your discomfort, a local anaesthetic could be given. Our staff will make every effort to minimise any potential pain.

You’ll notice staff in the room during CT and fluoroscopy wear lead gowns and sometimes neck and eye protection to reduce their exposure to radiation.

After your interventional procedure

If the procedure you had was aimed at reducing pain, you will be given a pain assessment form to complete during the next 10 days. Take this with you next time you see your doctor.

You might need to remain in the x-ray department for a short time after your procedure, for observation. For some procedures you may need to have someone else to drive you home. This information will be provided when you make your appointment.

The radiologist who performed your interventional procedure will write a report about the procedure and send that to the doctor who referred you. You will need to return to the health practitioner who referred you to discuss the effectiveness of the procedure.

For your convenience we can generally deliver the images and report to your doctor, by lunchtime on the next working day.

If you require the results for a follow up appointment on the day of the procedure, you can wait for the films and we will fax or email the results to your doctor. Some of our referring doctors prefer that their patients wait for their films after the procedure. You may arrange to collect the films at an alternative time, if you prefer that option.

Drainage insertion

Under image guidance using ultrasound or CT, a needle or catheter is placed within the chest or abdomen, to drain the abnormal fluid collection. The patient must remain very still while the fluid is being drained and remain in the department after the procedure for observation.

Fine needle aspiration (FNA) and core biopsy

Abnormal breast tissue is usually detected by physical examination, ultrasound or mammography. However, imaging tests can’t always differentiate benign lesions from cancer, and so FNA and core biopsy are used to define the true nature of abnormal areas found on ultrasound or mammography.

For FNA a fine 25-gauge needle is inserted under ultrasound or x-ray guidance into the abnormal area, and then cells are aspirated for viewing under a microscope. Some solid lesions will benefit from core biopsy. At Couth Coast Radiology we have an expert pathologist onsite during these procedures to ensure an adequate sample has been obtained.

Nerve block

People who suffer acute or chronic spine pain affecting the neck, buttocks, legs or arms may benefit from a nerve block injection to achieve temporary pain relief. A nerve block is used to treat a particular nerve or group of nerves by injecting an anaesthetic or anti-inflammatory agent, which will switch-off pain signals or decrease inflammation. CT or fluoroscopy is used for needle guidance, to ensure the needle is correctly placed to maximise pain relief.

Steroid injection

Steroid injections are used to relieve acute or chronic pain. A combination of hydrocortisone and long-acting local anaesthetic is injected into or around a bursa, joint or nerve depending on the cause of pain. CT, fluoroscopy or ultrasound is used for needle guidance, to ensure the needle is correctly placed to maximise pain relief.