Image is Everything:
Interventional Radiology Pioneers Minimally Invasive Nonsurgical Treatments
X-rays, ultrasound, MRI, PET, CT, fluoroscopy and mammography. Most people are familiar with these radiological imaging procedures, which are routinely used to detect an abnormality or illness.
Less familiar for patients is the field of interventional radiology, which uses imaging not only to understand and diagnose a problem, but also to treat disease through needle- sized incisions using fluoroscopy, CT or ultrasound. Interventional radiologists guide tiny catheters to the site of the problem through a patient’s arteries and deliver treatment internally, without open invasive surgery.
It’s a field that pioneered the development of coronary artery angioplasty and stenting, revolutionizing the practice of cardiology 30 years ago. Now, it continues to be on the forefront of the development of minimally invasive procedures that are increasingly used to treat uterine fibroids, liver disease, compression fractures, severe infections, urinary obstructions, and many types of tumors that were once inoperable.
“I became an interventional radiologist because I am passionate about patient care; I believe technology and medicine go hand in hand,” says Waseem A. Bhatti, M.D, a New Jersey native, who joined Overlook’s Interventional Radiology Department almost three years ago after completing a fellowship in interventional radiology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. “In an ideal world, every procedure would be quick, painless and highly effective. I try to come as close to those ideals as possible by helping to advance the role of minimally invasive procedures for diagnosing and treating disease.”
“When I learned that Overlook was looking for another interventional radiologist, I jumped at the opportunity,” recalls Dr. Bhatti, who received his medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School. “I had a firsthand look at the department when I was an intern at Overlook and had an elective in radiology with Dr. Neil Horner. I loved the patient interaction, the department’s range of capabilities, and the ability to deliver care quickly and effectively. I was then, and now continue to be, impressed with Overlook’s commitment to being on the forefront of technology.”
Overlook’s board-certified, fellowship-trained interventional radiologists, radiology registered nurses and radiologic technologists are highly experienced in providing the most minimally invasive, targeted treatments including ablation, biliary interventions, biopsies, fluid drainage systems, urological interventions, embolizations and vertebroplasty.
Most procedures are performed on an outpatient basis or require only a short hospital stay. General anesthesia is usually not required, and pain and recovery time may be significantly reduced. Plus, x-ray dose levels are kept to a minimum.
Dr. Bhatti specializes in interventional oncology, particularly the treatment of liver and kidney tumors through cryoblation (ablation using extreme cold to treat kidney or renal tumors), radiofrequency (using heat from high frequency, alternating current to treat tumors of the liver) and chemoembolization (shrinking tumors by restricting their blood supply). He’s also piloting a procedure utilizing radioactive beads to treat liver tumors.
“We’ve made enormous strides in both treating these tumors and enhancing the patient experience,” he points out. “Patients are awake during the procedure, experience no pain and usually return home the same day.”
“Our staff has the privilege of developing relationships with patients, their families and other specialists involved in the patient’s care throughout their entire experience here – from diagnosis to treatment and follow-up,” Dr. Bhatti adds.
This personal comprehensive approach to patient care has earned widespread recognition, as oncologists at other major cancer centers increasingly refer patients to Overlook for world-class treatment with a hometown touch.
“One of the advantages of using imaging for procedures is that before and after images make interventional procedures easily understandable,” Dr. Bhatti acknowledges. “We can show patients, ‘Here’s what the tumor looked like before, and here’s what it looks like now.’”
A picture is worth a thousand words and – thanks to interventional radiologists like Dr. Bhatti – thousands of lives.