Patients will be seen by vascular surgeons and interventional radiologists specially qualified in diagnosing and treating problems with arteries and veins. Patients will need to be seen by the doctor and sent for a scan to identify the problem arteries that may need treatment. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, CT or ultrasound scans can be used to show exactly where the diseased artery is and if it can be treated by a minimally invasive procedure.
Procedures used to treat or access blood vessels come under the heading 'Vascular Intervention'. Special X-ray dye called 'contrast' is used to give very detailed views of blood vessels throughout the body. Access into the blood vessel is usually through a small nick in the skin and a small plastic tube (called a 'sheath') is then placed and allows the interventional radiologist (IR) to work inside the blood vessel using even smaller plastic tubes, called 'catheters'. Using ultrasound and X-ray guidance the interventional radiologist can identify and treat narrowed or blocked arteries or veins.
Interventional radiologists can also place catheters into blood vessels to allow long-term access for chemotherapy or dialysis, so patients don't have to have needles placed repeatedly during their treatment.