Children's Hospital Colorado

Interventional Radiology at Children’s Hospital Colorado

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Doctors at Children’s Colorado use interventional radiology to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions. We may recommend one of these procedures as part of your child’s care.

What is pediatric interventional radiology?

Interventional radiology (IR) combines fluoroscopy, ultrasound and computed tomography (CT) to create highly detailed images displayed on a monitor. Doctors use these images to guide catheters, needles and other devices inside your child’s body through tiny incisions in the skin.

IR procedures are precise and minimally invasive, and we can often use them instead of “open” surgery. This means fewer complications and less recovery time for your child.

We perform dozens of interventional radiology procedures. Some of the most common are:

  • Arthrograms: To diagnose joint injuries
  • Peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC): To deliver medicine, nutrition or fluids through a thin tube
  • Balloon angioplasty and stenting: To widen narrowed blood vessels
  • Gastrostomy tube placements: To help feed or give medicine to children who can’t eat by mouth
  • Tumor biopsy: To diagnose and treat tumors using minimally invasive methods
  • Blood clot removal (thrombolysis): To treat clots inside blood vessels using minimally invasive methods

How should I prepare my child for a pediatric interventional radiology procedure?

Your child’s doctor will give you specific preparation guidelines based on the type of procedure we’re doing. Here are a few general tips to help your family get ready:

  • Take time to talk with your child and explain the test.
  • Reassure your child that they’ll be safe and comfortable.
  • You may want to bring a comfort item like a stuffed animal, toy or blanket.

Checking in to the hospital for an interventional radiology procedure

  • Your doctor or an interventional radiology nurse will tell you how early to arrive before your child’s scheduled procedure.
  • Bring a list of your child’s medicines and insurance card.
  • We’ll give your child an identification bracelet to ensure they get the right test.
  • A nurse talks with you about the procedure and answers any questions. In some cases, you may also meet with a child life specialist.
  • You’ll also sign a consent form.

We encourage you to stay with your child in the exam room. However, if you’re pregnant and your child’s procedure includes radiation, please bring another adult to the hospital to support your child. Siblings and other children are not allowed in the exam room during the test.

What to expect during your child’s interventional radiology procedure

Your child’s interventional radiology procedure will include one or more of these steps:

  • Receiving sedation or anesthesia: Some children, especially very young ones, may need sedation or anesthesia to stay still so we can capture accurate results. We’ll discuss this with you in advance.
  • Taking contrast material: Your child may receive a contrast material to spotlight the specific area of the body we’re studying. We use small doses of contrast to keep your child safe.
  • Capturing images: We use special cameras, X-ray equipment and scanners to take pictures of the organs, bones, blood vessels and other structures inside your child’s body. Which equipment we use depends on what procedure your child is having.
  • Placing a catheter: We often use a catheter to deliver medicine, contrast material, nutrition or fluids.
  • Reviewing results: An experienced interventional radiologist reviews your child’s exam results. Then, the radiologist sends a report to the doctor who ordered the test, who will follow up with you on next steps.

What to expect after a pediatric interventional radiology procedure

  • Your child can return to regular activities, unless their doctor recommends otherwise.
  • If your child receives sedation or anesthesia, you’ll receive specific instructions.
  • If your child receives a contrast material, the material will pass out of their body in urine or stool. Your child should drink plenty of water to help flush it out.

If you have any questions and/or concerns, call the ParentSmart Healthline toll free at 1-855-KID-INFO (543-4636). Caring pediatric nurses are available 24/7 to help answer your health questions.

Why choose us for pediatric interventional radiology

As a comprehensive pediatric hospital, Children’s Colorado specializes in caring for children’s unique medical needs. We care for thousands of children each year, offering:

  • Expertise: Our pediatric interventional radiologists are all board-certified, meaning they have the highest level of training and experience performing IR procedures. Our team also includes technologists certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, pediatric nurses, child life specialists and pediatric anesthesiologists.
  • Child-friendly exams: We use child-sized catheters, needles and devices, along with dosing for medications based on each child’s weight and size. We also use the lowest possible amounts of radiation to keep your child safe, and our child-adaptable scanning machines provide a more comfortable experience.
  • Advanced technology: We use sophisticated equipment to create accurate images of your child’s body, so we can provide accurate diagnosis and treatment. Some locations have specialized angiography machines that use pediatric doses of fluoroscopy to see the tiniest blood vessels from head to toe.

Learn more and schedule a pediatric interventional radiology procedure

For more questions or to schedule an interventional radiology (IR) test, please call Interventional Radiology at 720-777-8671 or the general radiology scheduling line at 720-777-6541.