Glossary of Terms

ANGIOGRAPHY: A radiographic technique in which a radiopaque (shows up on X-ray) contrast material is injected into a blood vessel for the purpose of identifying its anatomy on an X-ray. This technique is used to image arteries in the brain, heart, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, aorta, neck (carotids), chest, limbs, and pulmonary circuit. Top

ANGIOPLASTY: An interventional radiology procedure in which the radiologist inserts a miniature balloon attached to a thin tube (catheter) into a blood vessel through a tiny nick in the skin. The catheter is threaded under X-ray guidance to the site of the blocked artery. The balloon is inflated to open the artery. Top

ARTERIOGRAM: An angiogram of an artery. Top

ARTHROGRAM: The visualization of a joint by X-ray after the injection of dye into the joint. Top

ASPIRATE/ASPIRATION: Withdrawal of a fluid from the body by suction, usually through a needle or syringe. Top

BARIUM: A chalky liquid which outlines various parts of the digestive tract on an X-ray. It can be drunk to study the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. It can be used as an enema to study the large bowel. It is inert and is not absorbed by the body. Top

BILIARY DRAINAGE: An interventional radiology procedure in which a tube is inserted into the side of the abdomen. Bile, which normally flows from the liver to the intestines, is drained through the tube. Blockage of bile can cause infection, fever, pain, and jaundice. Biliary drainage relieves such symptoms and may obviate the need for surgery. Top

BIOPSY: The removal and examination of a piece of tissue taken from the body for diagnostic purposes. Top

CHEMOEMBOLIZATION: A family of technically sophisticated interventional radiology procedures used for the delivery of cancer-fighting agents directly to the tumor site. Top

COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY: Also known as CT scan or CAT scan (Computer Assisted Tomography). A special radiographic technique that uses a computer to assimilate multiple X-ray images into a 2-dimensional cross-sectional image. This can reveal many soft tissue structures not shown by conventional radiography. Scans may also be dynamic, in which movement of a dye is tracked. Cuts may be 1 mm apart to several mm (10-15) apart. Special dye materials may be injected into the patient’s vein prior to the scan to help differentiate abnormal tissue and vasculature. The machine rotates about 180° around the patient’s body, sending out a pencil-thin X-ray beam. Crystals positioned at the opposite points of the beam pick up and record the absorption rates of the varying thicknesses of tissue and bone. These data are then relayed to a computer that turns the information into a picture on a screen. Using the same dosage of radiation as that of the conventional X-ray machine, an entire slice of the body is made visible with about 100 times more clarity. The scanner was invented in 1972 by the British electronics engineer Sir Godfrey Hounsfield, and was in general use by 1979.Top

CONSCIOUS SEDATION: Intravenous medication used to relax the patient during a procedure, without putting him/her to sleep. Usually associated with procedures which are anxiety-producing for the patient. Top

CONTRAST MATERIAL: (Also referred to as contrast agent or contrast medium.) Any internally administered substance that has a different opacity from soft tissue on radiography, computed tomography, or MRI. Includes barium, used to make opaque parts of the gastrointestinal tract; water-soluble iodinated compounds, used to make opaque blood vessels or the genitourinary tract; may refer to air occurring naturally or introduced into the body; also, paramagnetic substances used in magnetic resonance imaging. Used during certain X-ray exams, CT exams, and MRI exams to provide visual contrast in the pictures of different organs and tissues. Can be given orally or intravenously. “Dye” usually refers to the contrast media given intravenously. In MR studies, the contrast is called gadolinium. The use of contrast may rarely result in some adverse effects. It increases the accuracy of the scan. Top

CORONARY ANGIOGRAPHY: A study of the blood vessels which supply the muscle of the heart (coronary arteries). By threading a long, narrow, flexible catheter through an accessible blood vessel (usually in the groin or arm), the individual coronary arteries are injected with a small quantity of X-ray dye, which helps radiologists look for blockages (stenoses). Cardiac catheterization refers to the technique of performing coronary angiography, whereby catheters are threaded into the heart and coronary arteries. Top

DOPPLER ULTRASONOGRAPHY: An application of diagnostic ultrasound used to detect moving blood cells or other moving structures and measure their direction and speed of movement. The Doppler effect is used to evaluate movement by measuring changes in frequency of the echoes reflected from moving structures. In many instances, Doppler ultrasound has replaced x-ray methods such as angiography, as a method to evaluate blood vessels and blood flow. Doppler ultrasound permits real-time viewing of blood flow that cannot be obtained by other methods. Doppler ultrasound has proven to be a boon in all areas of ultrasound, aiding in the evaluation of the major arteries and veins of the body, the heart, and in obstetrics for fetal monitoring. Top

ECHOCARDIOGRAPHY: A painless study using ultrasound waves to visualize structural and functional abnormalities of the heart. Top

EMBOLIZATION: The movement of a blood clot, piece of tissue, or pocket of air or gas from where it forms through the bloodstream until it lodges in place, cutting off the flow of blood with its oxygen and tissue nutrients. Catheter embolization is the deliberate introduction of foreign (“embolic”) material such as gelatin sponge or metal coils to stop bleeding or cut off blood flowing to a tumor or arteriovenous malformation. Top

FALLOPIAN TUBE RECANALIZATION: An interventional radiology procedure that opens blocked fallopian tubes, a common cause of infertility. Top

FLUOROSCOPY: A real-time X-ray procedure that makes it possible to see internal organs in motion. Top

HYSTEROSALPINGOGRAPHY: Radiography of the uterus and fallopian tubes after the injection of radiopaque material. Top

HYSTEROSONOGRAPHY: Sonography of the uterus and fallopian tubes using a transvaginal probe following the injection of sterile saline into the uterus.Top

INFERIOR VENA CAVA (IVC) FILTERS: Devices used in patients with leg vein clots, who are at high risk of dislodgement into the pulmonary arteries. The filter is inserted through a tiny incision in the groin or neck and positioned within the major abdominal vein (inferior vena cava) to prevent blood clots from reaching the lungs. Top

INTERVENTIONAL RADIOLOGY: A subspecialty of radiology that uses image-guided, minimally invasive techniques for the diagnosis and/or treatment of a variety of medical conditions, and often represents a viable alternative to surgery. The interventional radiologist uses miniaturized tools, while watching the progress of the procedure using moving X-rays or other imaging techniques. The procedures are performed in an interventional suite, generally on an outpatient basis. General anesthesia is usually unnecessary. Examples of interventional procedures include angiography, angioplasty, chemoembolization, fallopian tube recanalization, inferior vena cava (IVC) filters, ovarian vein embolization, percutaneous nephrostomy, stent placement, thrombolytic therapy, TIPS (transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt), uterine fibroid embolization, varicocele embolization, and vascular embolization. Top

INTRAVENOUS PYELOGRAM/IVP: A special diagnostic test that follows the time course of excretion of a radiopaque contrast dye through the kidneys, ureters, and bladder after it is injected into a vein. Top

MAGNETIC RESONANCE ANGIOGRAPHY/MRA: A method of angiography utilizing the magnetic properties of tissues and body fluids rather than X-rays to create images. Top

MAGNETIC RESONANCE CHOLANGIOPANCREATOGRAPHY: An examination of the bile ducts and pancreas using magnetic resonance imaging.Top

MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING/MRI: A special imaging technique used to image internal structures of the body, particularly the soft tissues. An MRI image is often superior to a normal X-ray image. It uses a strong magnet to create images of tissue based on the number and type of hydrogen atoms within the tissue. Images are very clear and are particularly good for soft tissue, brain and spinal cord, joints, and abdomen. These scans may be used for detecting some cancers or for following their progress. Top

MAMMOGRAPHY: Imaging examination of the breast by means of x-rays, used for screening and diagnosis of breast disease. Ultrasound and magnetic resonance may also be used to image the breast. Top

MYELOGRAM: An X-ray of the spinal cord after the injection of a radiopaque substance into the subarachnoid space. Top

NEEDLE BIOPSY: Diagnostic test for breast or other cancers that is an alternative to surgical biopsy. Involves the removal of tissue or suspension of cells through a small needle for diagnostic examination. Top

 

NEURORADIOLOGY: The branch of radiology which offers comprehensive diagnostic imaging of the brain, the spine and spinal cord, and the head and neck region, using radiography and fluoroscopy, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). State-of-the-art imaging techniques include echo planar techniques, perfusion/diffusion imaging, and PET scan. Noninvasive MR and CT angiography and other three-dimensional imaging techniques are available. Interventional neuroradiologic diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are available, including percutaneous biopsy of head and neck tumors, intra-arterial chemotherapy, and preoperative embolization of tumors and vascular malformations of the head and neck. Top

 

NONINVASIVE: Denoting a procedure that does not require insertion of an instrument or device through the skin or a body orifice for diagnosis or treatment.Top

NUCLEAR MEDICINE: The branch of medicine pertaining to the diagnostic, therapeutic, and investigative use of radioactive chemical elements. Dozens of different examinations are performed in the Nuclear Medicine Department. Minute traces of radioactive material, attached to a variety of molecules, are administered to the patient. The type of radioactive tracer and the type of molecule vary, depending upon which part of the body is to be examined. Scans are obtained with a gamma camera, which measures protons from the decaying radioactive tracers. Top

ORAL CHOLECYSTOGRAM: A series of X-rays of the gallbladder, taken after the gallbladder has been outlined with a special X-ray dye. The dye is taken orally the night prior to the study. Top

OVARIAN VEIN EMBOLIZATION: An interventional radiology treatment for “varicose veins” of the ovary, which is becoming more recognized as a cause of undiagnosed pelvic pain in women. Top

 

PANCREATOGRAPHY: Radiographic demonstration of the pancreatic ducts, after injection of radiopaque material into the distal duct. Top

PERCUTANEOUS: Through the skin. Top

PERCUTANEOUS NEPHROSTOMY: An interventional radiology procedure that allows percutaneous drainage of an obstructed kidney through a small tube.Top

POSITRON EMISSION TOMOGRAPHY/PET: A research imaging technique, similar to nuclear medicine, using short-lived radioactive substances which emit positrons. This technique is very sensitive in picking up active tumor tissue, but does not measure the size of it. Top

 

PYELOGRAM/IV UROGRAM/IVP: An X-ray of the pelvis, showing the kidney and associated structures, after injection of a radiopaque dye. Top

RADIOGRAPHY: The making of film records (radiographs) of internal structures of the body by passage of X-rays or gamma rays through the body to act on specially sensitized film. Top

 

RADIOLOGY: Medical imaging techniques, employing advanced computers and other complex equipment, that allow doctors to see inside a patient’s body. Although the word “radiology” implies radiation, not all of the techniques actually use radiation. And although radiology is most commonly used for diagnosis, it is sometimes used therapeutically. Top

RADIOPAQUE: Anything that does not allow the penetration of X-rays. Top

 

SCAN: Term used to describe the computerized images (pictures) generated by CT, MRI, ultrasound, and nuclear medicine studies. These might be referred to as a “CT scan,” “MR scan,” “thyroid scan,” “bone scan,” etc. Top

SCINTIGRAPHY: A nuclear medicine procedure consisting of the administration of a radionuclide with an affinity for the organ or tissue of interest, followed by recording the distribution of the radioactivity with a stationary or scanning external scintillation camera. Top

SONOGRAPHY: The location, measurement, or delineation of deep structures by measuring the reflection or transmission of high-frequency or ultrasonic waves. Computer calculation of the distance to the sound reflecting or absorbing surface plus the known orientation of the sound beam gives a two- or three-dimensional image. Synonym: ultrasound. Top

SPECT: An acronym for single photon emission computed tomography. A nuclear medicine procedure in which the gamma camera rotates around the patient and takes pictures from many angles, which a computer then uses to form a tomographic (cross-sectional) image. The calculation process is similar to that in X-ray computed tomography (CT) and in positron emission tomography (PET).Top

SPECTROSCOPY: The science of measuring the emission and absorption of different wavelengths (spectra) of visible and non-visible light. This can be done via a spectroscope, which consists of a slit, prism, collimator lens, object lens, and a grating. Hydrogen spectra from living tissue can be obtained using MR spectroscopy. Top

STENT PLACEMENT: An interventional radiology procedure in which a stent, a tiny metallic tubular mesh, is placed in an artery, acting like scaffolding to keep the artery open. Top

 

STEREOTACTIC: The technique of viewing objects from two slightly different angles to give a perception of depth. Top

 

THROMBOLYSIS/THROMBOLYTIC THERAPY: An interventional radiology procedure used in cases where blockage in an artery is caused by a blood clot. Thrombolytic drugs (clot-dissolving drugs) are delivered to the site of the blockages through a catheter directly into the clot to dissolve it and restore blood flow. These drugs are frequently combined with another treatment, such an angioplasty. Top

TIPS (Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt): An interventional radiology procedure used to improve portal blood flow for patients with severe liver dysfunction. The procedure uses a small hollow tube (shunt) to make a new pathway for the blood to flow from the liver to the large veins of the body. It is a safe test with low complication risks that can usually replace major surgery. Top

TOMOGRAPHY: The recording of internal body images at a predetermined plane by means of the tomograph. Also called body section roentgenography. This technique has been replaced by CT. Top

ULTRASOUND: A type of imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves to make pictures of the body organs. Since no ionizing radiation (X-rays) are used, it is ideal for looking at pregnant women and their fetuses. It is also used for the neck, abdomen, pelvis, and soft tissues, including blood vessels in the arms and legs. Top

 

UPPER GI SERIES: An X-ray exam of the upper part of the digestive tract. Top

UROGRAPHY: Radiography of any part (kidneys, ureters, or bladder) of the urinary tract. Top

UTERINE FIBROID EMBOLIZATION: A safe, effective non-surgical treatment for women with symptomatic uterine fibroid tumors. In this procedure, the interventional radiologist guides a small catheter into the uterine arteries and injects a stream of tiny particles that decrease blood flow to the fibroid. Top

VARICOCELE EMBOLIZATION: An interventional radiology treatment for “varicose veins” of the testicles, a common cause of male infertility or scrotal discomfort. Top

 

VASCULAR EMBOLIZATION: An interventional radiology technique used to treat bleeding from injured blood vessels. It is also used to non-surgically stop uncontrolled bleeding from the stomach or bowels. Top

 

VASOGRAPHY: Radiography of the secretory duct of the testicle (vas deferens), to determine patency (the state of being freely open), by injecting contrast medium into its opening either through the urethra or by incision into the vas deferens. Top

VENOGRAPHY: An angiogram of a vein. Top

 

VERTEBROPLASTY: A procedure used to help people with painful vertebral body fractures. Medical cement is injected into the fractured vertebral body. When the cement hardens, it permanently stabilizes the fracture, thereby relieving back pain. Top

 

X-RAY: A type of irradiation used for imaging purposes that uses energy beams of very short wavelengths (0.1 to 1000 angstroms) that can penetrate most substances except heavy metals. This is the most common form of imaging technique used in clinical practice everywhere in the world, with the image captured on photographic film. Top