Pediatric Interventional Radiology

What are the advantages of performing interventional radiology procedures in infants and children?

  • Generally offer less risk for children compared to open surgery
  • Are minimally invasive and are usually less painful
  • Less post-procedural discomfort
  • Require a shorter hospital stay
  • Need less nursing care
  • Recovery time is likely to be shorter, meaning that children can usually be out of bed sooner
  • Generally less scarring compared to surgery (most procedures require only a very small incision so no stitches are needed)
  • Usually cost less than the equivalent surgical procedure.

What are some of the common interventional procedures used in infants and children?

There are a large number of medical conditions in infants and children that are treated by interventional radiologists with a referral from the child's pediatrician, family practitioner or specialist. Examples include:

  • Central venous access catheter (CVAC) – The interventional technique that safely and effectively inserts thin plastic tubes (catheters) into a vein so that fluid, nutrition or medication can be injected into the bloodstream. Central venous access catheters reduce the need for repeated needle sticks. The types of catheters that may be placed include peripheral catheters in the arms, called PICC lines, or catheters in the neck, leg or under the collarbone called central lines. The insertion procedure will require some type of sedation or anesthesia in most children.
  • Gastrostomy – An interventional radiologist can easily and safely insert a small tube (catheter) directly into the stomach (gastrostomy) or small intestine (gastrojejunostomy) of children under intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. This tube helps children who are unable to take sufficient food by mouth.
  • Diagnostic angiography – A small plastic tube (catheter) is placed into an artery, injecting contrast (X-ray dye) while X-rays are taken of the area. This procedure helps diagnose vascular problems in the brain, blood vessel malformations, high blood pressure, liver disease or other conditions. In selected circumstances, minimally invasive vascular intervention techniques can be used to treat children with blood vessel malformation and other conditions.

Other IR procedures performed in infants and children

Other common interventional radiology procedures performed in infants and children are

  • Image-guided biopsies in any part of the body
  • Diagnosis and drainage of infections
  • Unclogging blocked blood vessels
  • Treating blockages to the kidneys and other kidney problems

Reprinted with permission of the Society of Interventional Radiology (c) 2004, 2008; All rights reserved.

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