Interventional Radiology

IR Day Photo 002Interventional radiology is a highly specialized area of medicine in which fluoroscopy (moving x-rays) and other technologies are used to diagnose and treat various medical conditions in minimally invasive ways.  South Carolina Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Care is one of a handful of institutions in the Southeast to offer interventional procedures to diagnose and treat diseases of the heart, urinary tract, and respiratory tract.  Interventional radiology allows us to treat patients in minimally invasive ways that previously required surgery, or had no other good treatment options.  Our interventional radiology team includes a team of cardiology, internal medicine, and emergency doctors.  Through the use of various catheters, stents, and other specialized tools our team is able to help animals liver happier, healthier lives.

Although we are always adding to the procedures we offer here at SCVSEC fall into three broad areas. 

Pacemaker Placement:
Atrioventricular block, sinus arrest and atrial standstill are conditions in which the heart rate becomes abnormally slow and can lead to weakness, collapse, and even sudden death.  Through a vessel in the neck, our interventional team passes a pacing lead (wire) down to the heart where it directly stimulates the heart to beat when necessary. After the pacemaker is placed, intermittent visits allow us to check and adjust the pacemaker with a special computer that helps monitor and maintain normal pacemaker function. Pacemaker placement can be a new lease on life for the patients that need it and most owners report a dramatic improvement in quality of life.

PDA Occlusion:Patent ductus arteriosus is a congenital (from birth) condition in which a normal connection between blood vessels around the heart does not close as it should after birth.  With interventional procedures we can feed catheters from an artery in the leg to the PDA defect where we then place a special device to close the defect.   

Balloon Valvuloplasty:  Pulmonic Stenonis is a congenital condition in which blood flow from the right side of the heart to the lungs is hampered by an unusually stiff pulmonic valve.  We access the right side of the heart and pulmonic valve through a vein in the neck.  Our interventional team then uses a balloon to dilate (open) the valve thus improving blood flow into the lungs.  Balloon dilation is sometimes used for other cardiac conditions as well.

Heartworm Extraction: While most dogs with heartworm disease require relatively straight forward medical management, dogs with the most severe forms of heartworm disease require physical removal of the heartworms from within the heart.  Using special instruments fed through a vein in the neck to the right side of the heart we are able to remove these worms and vastly reduce mortality rates for these patients.

Respiratory Medicine:

Tracheal Stent PlacementThe trachea is the tube by which air moves from the throat to the lungs and out again with each breath. In certain breeds of dogs, collapse of the trachea can lead to a debilitating cough and respiratory distress. Tracheal stents can help to open the airway and improve breathing. Tracheal stents can be used with tracheal tumors and other structural conditions as well. While case selection is important, this procedure can be a life-saver in severe cases.

Urinary Medicine:

Urethral Stent Placement:  The urethra is the tube that takes urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.  Dogs can develop tumors or inflammatory conditions of the urethra that make it impossible to urinate. Stent placement can allow for normal urination in these patients.

Ureteral Stent Placement:  Ureters carry urine produced from the kidneys to the bladder.  Dogs and cats can develop tumors, stones or inflammatory conditions that can block urine flow through one or both ureters. Stent placement can allow for resumption of normal urine flow.

Chemoembolization:  Most tumors are treated with some combination of surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. In some cases, direct delivery of anti-tumor medication into a blood vessel supplying a cancerous growth can provide additional benefit in fighting cancer and improving quality of life. Eligible patients are determined on a case by case basis.

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