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It’s easy to love interventional radiology

November 20, 2020

This post is inspired by a post on Twitter from @ermss_h, who in case you didn’t know, is Emma Humphrey, an EMT and “M0” according to her profile. Does that mean about to enter medical school? In any case, here’s her tweet, and my answer. It’s easy to love interventional radiology.

Working with your hands

There isn’t an easy way to substitute the feeling of working with your hands, and in interventional radiology (IR), and specialties like it, you can do just that. Did you like crafting, making bracelets, or perhaps video games when you were younger? These are all gateway activities to becoming a proceduralist or surgeon. And to be honest, my day to day manipulation of catheter and wire come pretty close to video games. 

Be stealthy

Using minimally invasive techniques means that in my field, we use the lowest impact access known to do the work, get in and get out! That often means a quicker recovery, less pain, and less cost for the patient (and the system)!

Fix problems no one else can

Is there a lymphatic leak with a refractory chylous effusion? Thoracic trauma or surgery can cause these, and we can often fix them in the interventional suite.

Got gastric varices? Gastroenterology can do a lot, but they can’t reach varies in the fundus. Interventional radiologists can help by placing a TIPS, a trans jugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt. Or, a coil or plug assisted transvenous obliteration of varices (CARTO or PARTO) might suit the patient better. Better call an IR!

When there are bleeding vessels in the pelvis which are hard to reach or too small to see at surgery, surgeons send them to angio. IR can help.

Save life and limb

If you call me at 2 a.m., I’ll engage. Whether it’s a pelvic crush injury or a splenic bleed, I can save a life. With IR’s endovascular techniques, we can watch the patient’s vitals switch from tenuous to robust in a matter of minutes. 

Work a variety of organ systems, applying your techniques in different areas

The “territory” I work in spans from the neck to the toes. How amazing is that? Because of this fact, you can be the belle of the ball in the doctors’ lounge. My friends and collaborators range from hospitalists to oncologists, surgeons to pathologists… the list goes on! 

Innovate

When you are part of such a young, nimble specialty, you can almost watch it evolve in real time. You can witness as advances are made, and even be in a position to invent a new procedure or device yourself!

I’ll end with quote from Ziv Haskal, the outgoing and ultra-successful Editor of the Journal of Vascular & Interventional Radiology:

 “IR began as—and still is—the coolest specialty in medicine. It focuses on extraordinary things never done before that astonish, and ideally, gradually become routine and mundane, offered to all.”

Dr. Ziv Haskal

Dr. Haskal and my colleagues in medicine know, it’s a point of pride and a pleasure to bring these minimally invasive treatments to the masses.

You can see why it’s easy to love interventional radiology. What other specialties are you considering alongside IR?

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