Informing patients of the advantages of interventional
radiology and minimally invasive surgery
18 September 2008
The Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe
(CIRSE) ran a Patient Awareness Programme at its annual meeting this
week to bridge the gap between the potential of interventional radiology
and patients' knowledge of it.
More than 5.000 interventional radiologists gathered in Copenhagen to
focus on the progress of interventional radiology as an alternative to
surgery. Surgery has been the preferred choice of treatment for many
years and a large number of the interventional radiology procedures are
still unknown to patients
"Due to the increasing demand for minimally invasive procedures,
interventional radiology has become one of the fastest growing medical
subspecialties. The procedures offer numerous advantages for the
patients including mitigated risks, no scarring, shorter hospital stays,
faster recovery and no general anaesthesia. Our goal is to achieve the
public recognition and acceptance of interventional radiology and its
key role in the treatment of diseases, spanning across the broad
spectrum of medical specialties," says Jim A. Reekers, the president of
Interventional Radiology is a radiological discipline providing
minimally invasive treatments performed under image guidance.
Unfortunately, a large number of the interventional radiology procedures
are still virtually unknown to patients. Many general practitioners and
other referring specialists remain unaware of the very real and sound
therapy options that minimally invasive procedures can offer.
At this year’s meeting, CIRSE addressed for the first time the
patients themselves. One of the highlights of the meeting was a Patient
Awareness Programme in which doctors and previous IR-patients spread the
word to patients that interventional radiology is an alternative to
surgery. The programme focused on three major diseases that affect a
great part of the population:
- Uterine Fibroid Embolization: Uterine fibroids affect 30%
of all women. Although these benign tumours are not
life-threatening, they can cause severe symptoms. So far, the final
treatment for most women has been a complete removal of the uterus.
Now study results show that uterus - preserving embolization is a
better treatment option. Embolization is a new and safe alternative
treatment option for fibroid disease. The so-called "keyhole
surgery" performed by interventional radiologists does not require
general anaesthesia and does not cause surgical scarring.
- Interventional Oncology: Delivery of cancer-fighting
agents directly to the site of a cancer tumour; currently being used
mostly to treat cancers of the endocrine system, including melanoma
and liver cancers. The treatment method uses radiofrequency (RF)
energy to cook and kill cancerous tumours. Interventional Radiology
improves the survival frequency by 40 percent.
- Peripheral Vascular Disease: Opens blocked or narrowed
blood vessels by inserting a very small balloon into the vessel and
inflating it. Interventional radiology has be used to unblock
clogged arteries in the legs or arms (called peripheral vascular
disease or PVD), kidneys, brain or elsewhere in the body.
“Only few patients know that there exists an alternative that can
treat many conditions without the use of surgery. In a world where
patients are starting to take their own initiative with regards their
healthcare, we would like to provide the patients with the information
that they need in order to make a choice about treatment options. The
patients attending the Patient Awareness Programme were very interested
in getting knowledge about IR as a treatment option. Its success shows
the importance of communication with the patients as well as doctors”,
says Poul Erik Andersen, the local chairman of CIRSE.
CIRSE represents 20 national societies from Europe and organises the
largest non-cardiac endovascular meeting in Europe every year. This year
CIRSE spends over 100,000 Euros on education grants allowing young
interventional radiologists to spend up to three months at another
hospital and to receive valuable training in specific interventional
For more information about embolisation or other interventional
radiological procedures, please contact the CIRSE Central Office (email@example.com),
who can refer you to a specialist in your country.
You can also find extensive advice on the use of interventional
radiology on the CIRSE website: