Glossary of Terms

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

Angioplasty
A procedure performed to open arteries that are narrowed or blocked by plaque. An expandable balloon is delivered via catheter that is guided through the circulatory system to a narrowed part of the artery. The balloon is then inflated, stretching the artery open and enabling blood to flow through freely. In most cases, the physician will implant a stent in the vessel to prevent it from further blockage.

Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM)
Blood vessel abnormalities in the brain or elsewhere in the body. If untreated, AVMs can rupture, causing life-threatening bleeding. Interventional radiologists can often treat these abnormalities without surgery by guiding thin catheters to the site and injecting a substance that blocks the supply of blood to the affected blood vessels.

Atherectomy
A minimally invasive procedure performed to cut and remove plaque from the sides of an artery.

Biliary Drainage and Stenting
The use of 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 patients may receive medication or nutrients directly into the blood stream. This procedure may also be used for drawing blood or creating dialysis access.

Chemoembolization
The delivery of cancer-fighting agents directly to the site of a cancer tumor. Chemoembolization is currently being used mainly to treat cancers of the endocrine system and liver cancers.

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

Fistulagram
A fistulagram involves placement of a tiny needle (smaller than a dialysis needle) into the fistula/graft (synthetic connection of an artery and a vein) and injection of contrast dye, enabling visualization within the fistula/graft. Treatments such as venous angioplasty/stent may be performed to treat blockages that are detected.

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

Infection and Abscess Drainage
An area of persistent infection (abscess) in the body. The infection can be drained by directing a catheter through a small nick in the skin to the site of the infection. May also be used to treat complications of open surgery.

Kyphoplasty
Treatment for fractured vertebra in which a balloon is used to elevate the fractured vertebra in an attempt to return it to the correct position. Medical-grade bone cement is then injected to stabilize the fracture.

Needle Biopsy
A diagnostic test for breast, lung and other cancers; an alternative to surgical biopsy.

Radiofrequency Ablation
The use of radiofrequency (RF) energy to “cook” and kill cancerous tumors.

Stent
A small, flexible tube made of plastic or wire mesh, used to treat a variety of medical conditions such as holding open clogged blood vessels or other pathways that have been blocked by tumors or obstructions.

Stent Graft
Also known as an endograph. A stent graft reinforces a ruptured or ballooning section of an artery (an aneurysm). A stent graft is a small, flexible, mesh tube used to “patch” the blood vessel.

Thrombectomy
Break-up and removal of a blood clot from an artery or vein using a balloon or another device.

Thrombolysis
This procedure injects clot-busting drugs at the site of the clot to dissolve the blockage.

TIPS (Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt)
A life-saving procedure that improves blood flow and prevents hemorrhage in patients with severe liver dysfunction.

Urinary Tract Obstruction
The ureter that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder becomes blocked by kidney stones or other obstructions.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat fibroid tumors of the uterus which can cause heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, and pressure on the bladder or bowel. The procedure is also sometimes referred to as Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE), but this term is less specific and is used for conditions other than fibroids.

Varicocele Embolization
Treatment for “varicose veins” in the scrotum, which can cause male infertility and pain.

Varicose Vein Treatment
Procedure where the saphenous vein is sealed non-surgically with a laser or radiofrequency.

Vena Cava Filter
This filter is a cone-shaped device that is inserted in a blood vessel to break up clots and prevent them from reaching the heart or lungs. Used in the prevention of pulmonary embolism.

Vertebroplasty
A treatment for fractured vertebra in which medical-grade bone cement is injected directly into the vertebra to stabilize the fracture.