Interventional radiology

An overview of interventional radiology, what to expect during the procedure and resources for further information.


Interventional radiology (IR) refers to a group of minimally invasive procedures performed using image guidance. These type of procedures can be used to help diagnose or treat a condition. 

Your doctor will use images during the procedure to guide the treatment or diagnosis. Small needles or catheters (tubes) are used to perform the procedure making it minimally invasive.

Common procedures

Common IR procedures include:

  • Needle biopsies
  • Venous access procedures (IV catheters for antibiotics, chemotherapy, dialysis)
  • Drainage procedures to relieve pressure in the kidney or liver
  • Removal of infected fluid from an abscess
  • Placement of feeding tubes through the abdominal wall into the stomach
  • Injections of spinal nerves to relieve pain
  • Injection of bone cement into vertebral fractures to relieve pain caused by compression fractures (vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty)
  • Tumour therapy for cancers using radio-frequency ablation (heat) in the liver

Preparing for the test

Talk to your doctor if you are using blood-thinning medications. Some procedures may require these medications to be stopped several days prior.

  • Make sure to follow the instructions your doctor or nurse practitioner gives you
  • Please bathe or shower before coming in for your procedure
  • Have an escort ready to drive you home after your procedure. Escorts of minors must remain on site while the patient is in our care.
  • Bring photo ID, insurance/pharmacy cards as well as a list of medications and allergies
  • Leave all valuables and jewelry at home

On the day of the test

A receptionist will check you in when you arrive. The IR technologist or nurse will then bring you into a private area to change into a hospital gown. Afterward, they will review your medical history, and confirms details with you.

Before starting the procedure, a radiologist will explain the process and get consent from you to begin.

Some interventional radiology procedures are done under an IV sedative which will help you relax. Depending on the type of procedure, exam times can vary from 30 minutes to 8 hours. You may need to stay overnight for observation depending on what kind of procedure is done.

After the test

A radiologist will interpret your images and create a report for your doctor. Please call your doctor for results if not notified in 14 days.

Support for Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous Wellness Liaison Team is here to support your health journey. Team members offer cultural support and healthcare advocacy. Learn more below or call them at 604-682-2344 ext.62937 or email

  • Indigenous wellness services

    The Indigenous Wellness Team at Providence is available to support Indigenous patients and their families. We are here to coordinate culturally safe wellness supports and services.

Medical & professional referrals