Interventional Radiology Procedures

Aortagram – UCSF Medical


An X-ray exam of the arteries and veins to diagnose blockages and other blood vessel problems; uses a catheter to enter the blood vessel and a contrast agent (X-ray dye) to make the artery or vein visible on the X-ray.

Balloon angioplasty

Opens blocked or narrowed blood vessels by inserting a very small balloon into the vessel and inflating it. Used by IRs to unblock clogged arteries in the legs or arms (called peripheral arterial disease or PAD), kidneys, brain or elsewhere in the body.

Biliary Drainage – UCSF Medical

Biliary drainage and stenting

Uses a stent (small mesh tube) to open up blocked ducts and allow bile to drain from the liver.

Central venous access

Insertion of a tube beneath the skin and into the blood vessels so that patients can receive medication or nutrients directly into the blood stream or so blood can be drawn.


Delivery of cancer-fighting agents directly to the site of a cancer tumor; currently being used mostly to treat cancers of the endocrine system and liver cancers.


Delivery of clotting agents (coils, plastic particles, gel, foam, etc.) directly to an area that is bleeding or to block blood flow to a problem area, such as an aneurysm or a fibroid tumor in the uterus.

Gastrostomy tube

Feeding tube inserted into the stomach for patients who are unable to take sufficient food by mouth.

Hemodialysis access maintenance

Use of angioplasty or thrombolysis to open blocked grafts for hemodialysis, which treats kidney failure.

High Blood Pressure

In some patients with high blood pressure, the condition is caused by a narrowing of the arteries in the kidneys. The problem, called renal hypertension, often can be treated with angioplasty.

MR-guided Ultrasound (also known as High Intensity Focused Ultrasound or HIFU)

MR-guided focused ultrasound surgery uses high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) waves to heat and kill fibroid cells, resulting in shrinkage of these benign growths and reduction in symptoms over time. Learn more about how MRgFUS is used to treat fibroids in the uterus.

Ultrasound Surgery – UCSF Medical

Infection and Abscess Drainage

Patients with a variety of illnesses may develop an area of persistent infection (abscess) in the body. The infection can be drained by inserting a catheter through a small nick in the skin and to the site of the infection. Also used to treat complications of open surgery

Radiofrequency ablation

Use of radiofrequency (RF) energy to treat cancerous tumors.


Dissolves blood clots by injecting clot-busting drugs at the site of the clot. Treats blood clots in the brain to reverse the effects of stroke; treats deep vein thrombosis in the leg to prevent permanent disability.

TIPS (transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt)

A life-saving procedure to improve blood flow and prevent hemorrhage in patients with severe liver dysfunction

Urinary Tract Obstruction

The ureter carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder and sometimes becomes blocked by kidney stones or other obstructions. The interventional radiologist inserts a catheter through a small nick in the skin and into the blocked kidney to drain the urine.

Uterine artery embolization

An embolization procedure of uterine arteries to stop life-threatening postpartum bleeding, potentially preventing hysterectomy. The same procedure is used to treat fibroid tumors and is then called UFE (Uterine Fibroid Embolization).

Uterine fibroid embolization

Cuts off the blood supply to the fibroid, causing them to shrink and die, and symptoms to subside (also known as uterine artery embolization).

Varicocele embolization

A treatment for "varicose veins" in the scrotum, which can cause male infertility and pain.  Learn more about Varicocele Male Infertility: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments.

Vena cava filter

 A tiny cage-like device that is inserted in a blood vessel to break up clots and prevent them from reaching the heart or lungs. Prevents pulmonary embolism.

Venous Embolization for Treatment of Pelvic Congestion

In women, the gonadal veins may become incompetent, leading to pelvic congestion. Pelvic congestion typically leads to pelvic pain, particularly during intercourse. This can be managed very successfully with a minimally invasive procedure to occlude the veins that have led to the symptoms.