At WVU Medicine, our expert neurointerventional radiologists provide advanced care for both vascular and non-vascular conditions affecting the head, neck, and spine. J.W. Ruby Memorial is one of the only hospitals in the region to offer such comprehensive services, helping patients from multiple states receive innovative care.
Our expert neurointerventional teams work with physicians from many different specialties, such as vascular surgery, neurosurgery, oncology, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), and orthopaedics. We use the latest evidence-based care to treat a wide range of conditions from cancer to back pain.
Advanced Head and Neck Treatments
The head and neck are full of important, delicate structures. Surgeries in this area of the body must be precise to not damage the surrounding area. WVU Medicine neurointerventional radiologists use minimally invasive procedures to reduce the risks involved with head and neck surgeries.
Head and neck tumor embolization
Tumor embolization is an advanced procedure that can make benign and malignant head and neck tumors easier to remove – with less risk of bleeding and other complications. This innovative procedure has increased survival rates for head and neck cancers.
During a tumor embolization, neurointerventional radiologists inject dye into the blood vessels to see which vessels go to the tumor. The physician then makes a small incision in the artery in the groin. Using X-ray guidance, the physician guides a catheter from the groin up into the blood vessels that supply blood to the head or neck tumor. Through the catheter materials, such as microscopic coils or a strong glue are injected to block the blood vessels that supply blood to the tumor.
With blood supply reduced or cut off, the tumor is less likely to bleed when it is removed. It also may be easier to see the edges of the tumor, allowing surgeons to more fully remove the cancer.
Innovative Spine Care
WVU Medicine neurointerventional radiologists provide complete care for the spinal bones and nerves. Our experts use advanced imaging and the latest technology to treat conditions such as:
- Spine pain
- Spine tumors
- Spine fractures and osteoporosis
- Spinal arteriovenous malformations or fistulas
Spinal nerve blocks
Spinal nerve blocks temporarily relieve back pain by blocking nerve signals causing the pain.
For a minimally invasive nerve block procedure, a patient receives an injection with a small amount of contrast dye which shows up on X-ray images. Using these live images, our physician carefully guides a needle to the area of the spine causing the pain. The physician will inject an anesthetic drug as close as possible to the affected nerve to bring pain relief.
The procedure takes only a few minutes, and results are almost immediate. With our experienced neurointerventional radiologists, spinal nerve blocks are safe and effective. The procedure is repeated as necessary to provide pain relief.
Spinal angiography is a diagnostic imaging study used to examine blood vessels around the spine. During this procedure, our neurointerventional experts make a small incision in the groin and guide a catheter through the incision, into the arteries, and into the blood vessels that serve the spine. They then inject a small amount of dye through the catheter.
As the dye moves through the blood vessels, X-ray videos show how it moves up into the spine, revealing blood flow. Physicians can review this video to identify problems with blood flow or blood vessel malformations in the spine. These malformations can cause serious nerve damage in the spine by restricting blood flow to the nerves.
Spine vascular embolization
If spinal angiography reveals arteriovenous malformation in the spine, our physicians can help correct these issues with minimally invasive vascular embolization. The two procedures may be completed at the same time.
Like spinal angiography, spine vascular embolization uses X-ray guidance and minimally invasive catheterization procedures. After the catheter is placed into the malformed blood vessels, our physician inserts a specialized glue that blocks the blood vessel. By blocking the malformed blood vessels or fistulas, normal blood flow is restored to the spine and prevents nerve damage.
Not all spinal arteriovenous malformations can be treated using minimally invasive neurointerventional procedures. At WVU Medicine, a multidisciplinary team of neurosurgeons, spine surgeons, neurointerventional radiologists, and vascular surgeons work together to determine the best course of treatment for each patient.
Spine tumor biopsies
Our neurointerventional radiologists help diagnose spine tumors by performing advanced spine biopsies. Spine tumor biopsies require expert surgical care to avoid damaging any nerves within the spine.
For spine biopsies, WVU Medicine neurointerventional experts use X-ray imaging to guide a needle into the tumor. Using the needle, the physician removes a small part of the tumor so it can be studied under a microscope.
Spine tumor embolization
Benign and malignant tumors in the spine can cause serious nerve damage and pain. WVU Medicine physicians use spine tumor embolization before surgery to reduce risks of surgical removal of tumors. We may also use spine tumor embolization as the primary treatment for these tumors if surgery is not possible.
During spine tumor embolization, the physician makes a small incision in a patient’s groin. The physician then guides a catheter through the groin and up into the blood vessels of the spine using X-ray guidance. Once in place, the physician injects dye through the catheter to see which blood vessels provide blood to the tumor.
The physician can then cut off blood flow to the tumor by injecting a special glue through the catheter and into the blood vessels. Without blood flow, the tumor may shrink in size, its borders may be easier to see, and it may be easier to remove the tumor during surgery.
Spine tumor ablation
WVU Medicine neurointerventional radiologists also treat painful spine tumors with the latest ablation techniques. For these image-guided procedures, our neurointerventional experts insert a special needle directly into the spine tumor. The needle is then heated up using radiofrequency energy.
The heat of the needle destroys the tumor cells without harming the healthy cells around the tumor. This minimally invasive procedure is used to treat metastatic tumors that have spread from other areas of the body. The procedure helps relieve spine pain while patients undergo cancer treatment, restoring their ability to move easily.
WVU Medicine neurointerventional radiologists can treat spine compression fractures caused by osteoporosis using a technique called percutaneous kyphoplasty. This minimally invasive treatment helps reduce spine pain and restore spine function.
During this procedure, the physician uses imaging guidance to place a small needle in the affected vertebra. A small balloon on the end of the needle is inflated to decompress the vertebra, restoring it to its previous height. The physician then inserts a specialized bone cement into the vertebra to stabilize it.