Physicians at The George Washington University Hospital treat most cancers with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or some combination of these treatments.

Interventional radiologists often work with oncologists to perform the following minimally invasive procedures using imaging equipment to treat many cancer patients.

Needle Biopsy

Many cancers are now diagnosed by a needle biopsy. During this procedure, interventional radiologists use imaging techniques, such as CT, X-ray, ultrasound or MRI, to remove a small amount of tissue from a tumor to determine if cancer cells are present. An alternative to conventional surgical biopsy procedures, needle biopsies can be less painful and result in a shorter recovery times

Tumor Ablation

Tumor ablation involves interventional techniques that apply heat, cold or chemicals to destroy a tumor. During this procedure, doctors use imaging from a CT scanner or ultrasound machine to help them insert a small needle-type probe through the skin and precisely into the tumor. 

Relief of Obstructions

Interventional radiologists use imaging techniques to determine where cancers have obstructed the normal flow of urine or bile. Such obstructions can cause pain, infection or even liver or kidney failure.

While watching images on a screen, doctors insert a catheter into the obstructed area to drain excess fluids. A stent might also be inserted into the organ to bypass the obstruction and permit fluids to drain normally.

Chemoembolization / Radioembolization

Embolization is a treatment used to deliver chemotherapy or radiotherapy via a catheter directly to liver tumors. While not a cure, embolization can help prevent growth of liver tumors, potentially preserving liver function and a relatively normal quality of life.

Embolization is usually completed within 90 minutes. Sometimes the procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis, but most patients leave the hospital after an overnight stay. Embolization can be repeated many times over the course of many years as long as it remains technically possible and the patient continues to be healthy enough to undergo the procedure.