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Interventional radiology offers a less-invasive alternative to some surgeries

Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2010

Vertebroplasty is one of a growing number of minimally invasive procedures performed by specialists known as interventional radiologists. Using X-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds and other imaging technologies, these doctors make tiny incisions to guide needles, catheters, and other devices deep into the body to insert stents in arteries, blast away tumors and blood clots, and incinerate or freeze diseased tissues. Flexible scopes with lenses that transmit images to a monitor screen near the patient, and physicians can manipulate the instruments from outside the body. Without the large incisions of conventional surgery, recovery time is faster and there is less chance of infection. Patients are sedated but conscious, reducing the risks of complications from general anesthesia.