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Published on December 04, 2017

Treating complex vascular diseases through a pinhole

Do you have patients with risk factors for, or symptoms of, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), hypertension, leg ulcers, peripheral artery disease, pulmonary embolism, stroke or vascular malformations?

Ezana Azene, MD, PhD, Gundersen Interventional Radiology

Ezana Azene, MD, PhD, Gundersen Interventional Radiology

Every day, the interventional radiologists at Gundersen Health System use the latest advances in digital imaging and minimally invasive technology to deliver precise, targeted treatments to these complex and sometimes life-threatening vascular conditions.

"Unlike minimally invasive surgeries which involve small incisions and tiny cameras to see throughout the body, we use minimally invasive, image-guided procedures (or MIIPs) to see inside the body," explains Gundersen interventional radiologist Ezana Azene, MD, PhD.

"Because we don't make large incisions and rarely use general anesthesia, we can treat patients who are frail or unsuitable candidates for traditional open surgery. Patients who are in good health also benefit because interventional radiology procedures carry less surgical risk and allow for faster recovery," Dr. Azene adds.

The following procedures are available at Gundersen to treat various vascular conditions:

  • Angioplasty opens obstructed blood vessels and restores blood flow. Live X-rays are used to guide a catheter through the blood vessel to the blockage where a balloon is inflated to help open the blocked vein or artery.
  • Stents hold a blood vessel open so blood can flow freely. Similar to angioplasty, interventional radiologists can place a stent via a thin catheter in the blood vessel.
  • Thrombolysis uses clot-dissolving tissue plasminogen-activator (t-PA), delivered directly to the clot using a catheter and X-ray guidance.
  • Mechanical thrombectomy is another method of removing blood clots. An interventional radiologist uses a mechanical device to remove the clot in pieces.
  • Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are small devices used to prevent pulmonary embolism. Individuals affected by DVT, who also have an increased risk of bleeding and unable to take blood thinners, are good candidates. In addition to placing IVC filters, Gundersen interventional radiologists perform complex retrieval of embedded IVC filters.
  • Embolization is used to prevent blood flow to an area of the body. It can be used to treat acute hemorrhage, malignant tumors, uterine fibroids and vascular malformations.

Patients who are referred to Interventional Radiology are evaluated in the Interventional Radiology Outpatient Clinic—either in person on the Gundersen La Crosse Campus or via telemedicine at many of our regional Gundersen clinics.

Patients are monitored longitudinally in the Interventional Radiology Outpatient Clinic as long as they continue to have a risk for post-procedural morbidity, an active disease process or could potentially benefit from interventional radiology therapies in the future. Whenever a treatment decision is going to affect another disease process or problem that you are already managing, an interventional radiologist will communicate that with you ahead of time.

To make a referral or to ask questions, contact Interventional Radiology via MedLink at (800) 336-5465. In La Crosse, call (608) 775-5465. Visit our Interventional Radiology website to learn more.

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