Elmhurst Memorial Interventional Radiology – Treating Big Diseases in Small Places
(Elmhurst, IL – May 13, 2014) – Interventional radiology (IR) is a subspecialty of radiology that uses the least-invasive techniques possible to diagnose and treat diseases throughout the body. As a result, patients are less likely to develop an infection, have quicker recoveries and shorter, if any, hospital stays.
Interventional radiologists can kill a tumor by burning it from the inside out, stop internal bleeding, fuse a broken spine and clear blood clots out of arteries – treating diseases that once required full-blown surgery in a way that lessens a patient’s physical trauma and speeds healing.
Some of the more common conditions that can be addressed with interventional treatments include arterial disease, varicose veins and uterine fibroids, but they can also be used to treat conditions such as aneurysms and cancer.
In February 2014, the Interventional Radiology Outpatient Clinic opened at Elmhurst Memorial’s Center for Health, located on the hospital’s campus at 155 E. Brush Hill Rd. The Clinic is staffed by three primary interventional radiologists – Andrew Blum, MD; Ryan Hickey, MD and Elias Hohlastos, MD, all members of Northwestern Medicine who work closely as a multidisciplinary team with Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare physicians to ensure patients receive the best possible treatment. Clinical nurse coordinators assist patients with planning and follow-up care.
Three patients helped by IR
There was a time in Joseph Gilles’ life when he simply could not sleep at night. A severely fractured bone in his spine, which was aggravated after Gilles moved a heavy box, was causing intense, constant pain.
“It was a ten on a scale of one to ten,” says Gilles, 66, of Lombard.
An orthopedic specialist recommended kyphoplasty, a procedure that entails injecting bone cement into the fractured vertebral body to fuse it together. Dr. Blum notes that Gilles’ condition did not require surgery. But the interventional procedure speeds the healing process, relieves pain and helps restore normal mobility.
“Previously the only option was weeks or months of bed rest and potential bracing,” explains Dr. Blum. “This procedure gets patients up and walking sooner without the need for a brace.”
Two days after his procedure, Gilles said that he was out of bed and walking. “The hospital staff was amazed at my progress,” says Gilles. “I’m grateful for the job they did. And the nurses on the floor – they were terrific.”
Nancy Kuhfusswas getting frustrated.
An active person accustomed to dancing the night away at a local jitterbug club, Kuhfuss, 72, of Franklin Park, was down to two dances in a row before her leg pain became unbearable.
Her doctor noticed a weak pulse in her right ankle and sent her to the Elmhurst Memorial interventional radiologists. After an ultrasound of her leg showed an abnormal result, Dr. Hohlastos ordered a CT angiogram, which revealed blockage in an artery behind her right knee due to a build-up of plaque from atherosclerosis.
“The problem could have been corrected with a surgical bypass to divert blood around the blockage, but she would have been under general anesthesia during the surgery and would have needed several days to weeks to recover,” explains Dr. Hohlastos.
With an interventional procedure, however, Dr. Hohlastos was able to perform an atherectomy, removing the plaque from her artery, followed by angioplasty, stretching Kuhfuss’s blood vessel with a balloon inserted with a catheter, which restored the flow of blood to her lower right leg.
Days after the procedure, Drs. Blum and Hohlastos told Kuhfuss to test her leg.
“Dr. Blum said, ‘If after two dances it used to hurt, I want you to do four or five dances now to see if your leg feels better,’” says Kuhfuss. “He said, ‘I want you to go to Costco and walk the whole building.’”
“I finally went – I was walking all over the store and didn’t think about my leg at all,” adds Kuhfuss.
A kidney stone was driving Patrick Pisciotto crazy.
When he got it checked out, however, his doctor discovered a more serious health threat on his other kidney – a cancerous tumor.
“They were talking about taking out the kidney or taking half of it,” says Pisciotto. “I said, ‘I don’t like that idea.’ If I only have one (kidney) and something happens, I’m in trouble.”
Pisciotto, 71, of Wood Dale, was referred to the Interventional Radiology Outpatient Clinic at Elmhurst Memorial Center for Health, where doctors told him that they could kill the tumor with thermal ablation and keep his kidney intact, instead of performing open surgery to remove all or part of the kidney.
“Not only is ablation easy for patients to physically tolerate – and can be performed under light sedation – but the recovery after the procedure is also generally very quick,” says Dr. Hickey. “Patients may stay in the hospital overnight or go home the same day.”
Pisciotto said he spent one night in the hospital, then was out and driving his vehicle the next day.
“It was fast, it was precise, it was accessible,” Pisciotto says. “I’ve been doing well; I have no problems.”
Pisciotto can also attest to the group’s follow-up, saying they have kept tabs on his healing, checking in every three months without fail. He said that they put him at ease from the moment he walked into the office.
“I felt so secure because they said, ‘No problem. We can do this,’” says Pisciotto. “They were so positive about it. I just left myself in their hands. They’re amazing to me.”
For more information, visit www.emhc.org/services/interventional-radiology.