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Interventional Radiology – Connecting Diagnostics and Therapeutics

Hammelman-FabrizioInterventional Radiology (IR) is a medical specialty that employs image-guided, minimally invasive diagnostic and treatment techniques to treat a wide variety of diseases – often as an alternative to traditional surgery. Interventional radiologists are highly trained physicians in imaging, radiation safety, procedural technique, and patient management. They treat diseases using small catheters or other devices and tools guided by imaging such as fluoroscopy, computed tomography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging. Procedures performed by IRs are generally less costly and less stressful for patients than more traditional surgical procedures, involving fewer and much smaller incisions, less pain, shorter hospital stays, and quicker recovery periods. 

PAH Interventional Radiologists Dr. Ray Fabrizio, section chief, and Dr. Ben Hammelman

Over a half a century ago, Dr. Charles T. Dotter at the University of Oregon Medical School, widely recognized as the “Father of Intervention,” proposed the potential of catheters to be used in performing intravascular surgery. By the mid-1970s transcatheter therapeutic procedures were common in the U.S. and by the mid-1980s a wide array of therapeutic interventions and devices had been developed.

While IR is widely accepted as a clinical specialty today, that that wasn’t always the case. A few decades ago, IR was considered part of the radiology department and therefore, just a hospital-based diagnostic specialty. IR physicians usually didn’t perform patient evaluations or manage treatment. Now, IRs are bridging the gap between hospital-based diagnostics and interventional therapeutics to treat underlying diseases.

A little over a year ago, PAH welcomed its first in-house, staff interventional radiologists, Raymond M. Fabrizio, MDchief of Interventional Radiology and assistant professor of Radiology, and Ben Hammelman, MD, assistant professor of Radiology.

“Since the arrival of Dr. Fabrizio and Dr. Hammelman, they have partnered with every service here at Pennsylvania Hospital to be available for consults and caring for their patients,” said Susan Horne, RN, CNOR, Interventional Radiology and Orthopeadic Surgery OR clinical coordinator.

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