Medical practice today has generally improved, thanks to the new innovations and technology, which are slowly changing the face of healthcare across the world with regard to treatment, diagnosis and disease prevention. In Kigali, one such new technology which has been introduced is interventional radiology, which can be used instead of surgery in treating some diseases and conditions. The new technology is one of its kind and first to be introduced in Rwanda. It will see patients with different conditions treated without undergoing surgery, as well as pose less risk compared to undergoing surgery. Healthy Times’ Lydia Atieno had an exclusive interview with Dr Nebayosi Twahirwa, a consultant body and interventional radiologist, who is introducing the new technology in the county. He explores how it works, advantages, and why it’s the best alternative option over surgery.
What is interventional radiology?
Interventional radiology (IR) is a medical specialty and branch of radiology which provides minimally invasive image-guided diagnosis and treatment of disease. This is done by placement of small instruments such as catheters under visualisation of medical imaging equipment. For one to perform these procedures, he/she needs to be a trained medical doctor, who later trains in radiology and thereafter interventional radiology.
There are a number of conditions that have been relying on surgery as a major treating option, but IR can as well diagnose and treat such conditions with minimal procedures compared to surgery.
How is it different from normal surgery?
In IR, diagnosis and treatment procedures are done under image guidance while surgery requires physically opening the body or using a camera.
With normal surgery, there are a lot of procedures required, not to mention the accompanying complications. For instance, with surgery the patient has to be admitted to the hospital, taken to the operation room and brought under general anesthesia, which comes with a lot of complications. After that, the patient will also need time to recover from the wound and stitches depending on the condition and how the surgery went.
However, the case is different when IR is used as it’s only a one-day procedure that will allow the patient to go back home after receiving treatment. Another aspect is that one can avoid the risks of anesthesia. Again, with IR local anesthesia is used, just like that one used by dentists while carrying out dental procedures.
The number of days one stays in the hospital is reduced when one opts for IR procedure. For the normal surgery, one can even spend up to 10 days in the hospital. The good thing is that the outcome of IR and surgery are the same.
Also, IR is less costly than surgery. This is because with it, one is not required to spend even a day in the hospital. The patient’s family members are able to take their patient home as soon as possible and it’s associated with less anxiety compared to undergoing surgery. It as well reduces body tissue handling.
What kind of diseases and conditions can be treated using interventional radiology?
The conditions that can be handled using IR are many, but some of them include obtaining specimen to diagnose or rule out cancer, abdominal and pelvic abscesses, blocked kidneys and biliary system, chest and abdominal fluids, among others.
For those patients who can’t feed due to some conditions or illness, with IR, it’s possible to create an alternative route for them to feed normally. On the other hand, evaluation of abnormalities of the liver such as hepatitis and kidney failure can be done by doing a biopsy.
In cases of abscesses in the liver, traditionally, the patient is supposed to undergo surgery in order to cure them. But today, the abscesses can be treated using imaging guidance which is simple and with less complication.
What is required is to go into the liver using a small insertion to sack out the part which is supposed to be treated.
For those patients with mass in the abdomen, chest or neck, among other places in the body, using IR helps find out exactly what it is. This is done through using imaging guidance to pick the sample using core bio-imaging, after which the patient can be referred to the right physician for further treatment.
The imaging can also help in doing a breast biopsy. If there is a breast lamp, the first thing that one needs to do is to know what it is because not all breast lamps are cancerous. In this case, depending on what has been found out, the patient can then be transferred to the right physician to treat the exact disease or condition.
How can one access such services?
Bio-Imaging is licensed by Ministry of Health. We are located at Umuyenzi Plaza- Remera (Kiseminti) in Gasabo District. The cost of treatment as explained earlier depends on the procedure. When seeking the services, we also provide education on self-examination.