Interventional Radiology

Minimally invasive, image-guided treatment in San Diego

Interventional radiology (IR) is a medical subspecialty that uses minimally invasive, image-guided treatment of medical conditions that once required open surgery.

Using advanced imaging (ultrasound, X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans and other innovative methods), interventional radiologists can see inside your body and treat complex conditions — such as cardiovascular disease and cancer — less invasively and with better precision.

IR can reduce the length of hospital stays, minimize potential complications and help save lives.

Scripps interventional radiologists are at the forefront of clinical advances through the use of the latest image-guided technologies. They are board-certified physicians who are trained in both diagnostic radiology imaging interpretation and minimally invasive therapies.

Interventional radiologists work in nearly all organ systems of the body to deliver minimally invasive treatments for many conditions.

As an integral part of delivering excellent patient care, Scripps is committed to providing patients with state-of-the-art, interventional radiology services at each of its sites throughout San Diego County.

Conditions treated by interventional radiology

Interventional radiology procedures are used to treat the following diseases and conditions:

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is an enlargement of the aorta. The aorta is the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body. Interventional radiology is used to treat AAA if the aneurysm is too large or grows too quickly.


An abscess is an infected sac of fluid in the body. An abscess is a normal reaction to an infection. Interventional radiology is used to treat abscesses that are not responding to antibiotics. It can also help prevent infection from spreading throughout the body.


Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. There are many types of cancer and it can start anywhere in the body. Cancer sometimes takes the form of a mass, called a tumor. Interventional radiology is used to diagnose cancer and as a nonsurgical way to treat it. Learn more about cancer treatment at Scripps Cancer Center.

Chronic pelvic pain 

Chronic pelvic pain has many causes. It mostly affects women and can lead to serious conditions, such as pelvic congestion syndrome. Interventional radiology is used to treat chronic pelvic pain using X-ray guidance and mild sedation. It is also used to treat pelvic congestion syndrome with ovarian vein embolization, which helps relieve painful pressure.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a type of deep venous disease. Venous disease is when veins have trouble sending blood from the legs to the heart. DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in the body’s deep veins. If these clots travel to the lungs, they are called pulmonary embolism (PE). Interventional radiology is used to treat DVT in various ways, including angioplasty and stenting, thrombolysis and placement of a filtering device.

Female infertility

Female infertility is when a woman cannot get pregnant after six to 12 months of regular intercourse without birth control. If infertility is related to a blocked Fallopian tube, interventional radiology is used to unblock the tube.

Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT)

Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia is a genetic disorder that causes an unusual growth of blood vessels of the mouth, nose, skin and organs. There are different types of HHT, including arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and telangiectasias. Interventional radiology is used to treat AVMs using embolization, which involves inserting a type of glue into the AVM through a catheter. The glue blocks blood flow into the AVM, which helps limit blood loss and slow blood flow during surgery.


Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure. It is a condition where the force of blood against the artery wall is consistently high. Interventional radiology is used to treat some types of hypertension using renal artery angioplasty and stenting. This helps restore normal blood flow.

Kidney failure

Kidney failure is the result of damaged kidneys not working properly. This can lead to harmful waste building up in the body, a spike in blood pressure and other life-threatening problems. Interventional radiology is used to treat kidney failure by creating a new connection between kidney and bladder to pass excess urine. It is also used to create a connection between an artery and a vein to provide an access point for kidney dialysis.

Liver disease 

Liver disease is a type of damage to the liver. Liver disease can lead to liver cancer. Interventional radiology is used to treat liver disease with minimally invasive, image-guided therapies. It is also used to deliver targeted treatments to a tumor.

Male infertility

Male infertility is when a man cannot get a fertile woman pregnant. It may be due to a varicocele, which is an enlargement of veins inside the scrotum. Interventional radiology is used to treat varicoceles through minimally invasive varicocele embolization. This helps prevent blood flow to the varicoceles, reducing pressure in the veins of the scrotum.  

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

Peripheral arterial disease is caused by having narrow or clogged arteries that lead to your arms or legs. It also is related to atherosclerosis. Interventional radiology is used to treat PAD in several ways, including thrombolysis, thrombectomy, angioplasty and stenting.  

Pulmonary embolism 

Pulmonary embolism (PE) is related to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a type of deep venous disease. DVT occurs when blood clots form in the body’s deep veins that move blood from the body back to the heart and lungs. If these clots travel to the lungs, they are called PE. Interventional radiology is used to treat PE in various mechanical forms, including angioplasty and stenting, thrombolysis and placement of a filtering device.

Trauma and bleeding

Trauma and bleeding are often associated with having a life-threatening injury. Interventional radiology is used to treat trauma and bleeding through embolization — a technique that blocks blood flow and stops excessive bleeding during surgery.  


A stroke occurs in two ways — when blood flow to the brain is interrupted or if there is bleeding inside the brain. Interventional radiology can be used to treat stroke in a few ways, including endovascular thrombectomy, carotid artery angioplasty and stenting, or cerebral aneurysm coiling and stenting.  

Uterine fibroids  

Uterine fibroids (leiomyoma) are a specific type of tumor that can grow in the muscle cells of the uterus. They are benign growths (not cancer), but they can affect a woman’s period. Interventional radiology is used to treat uterine fibroids using uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). 

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are swollen, painful veins visible under the surface of the skin. They are caused by problems with the valves inside your veins that keep blood flowing back to your heart. Interventional radiology is used to treat varicose veins using endovenous laser ablation treatment (EVLT). This is a minimally invasive treatment that closes off problematic veins and relieves symptoms.  

Vertebral compression fracture

A vertebral compression fracture is caused when bones in your spine collapse. It can be caused by having osteoporosis, which is a bone disease that makes bones more fragile. Interventional radiology is used to treat vertebral compression fractures using vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty. This treatment helps stabilize the fracture and allow the bones to heal.

Types of interventional radiology procedures

Interventional radiology procedures include:

Angioplasty/stent placement

The opening of narrowed blood vessels without surgery.


The drainage of an obstructed kidney.


Injecting bone cement into the spine to prevent further advancement of compression fractures.

Needle biopsy

Extracting cells from organs or bone to be analyzed by pathology.

Cerebral embolization

A method for blocking off part of a blood vessel that is causing problems.

Thrombolytic therapy

Catheters are guided to the location of a blood clot where a medication is released to dissolve the clot. This is often used to treat strokes or heart attacks.

Interventional radiology locations

Interventional radiology is available at the following Scripps Health locations in San Diego County: