We are a full-service emergency pet hospital, serving pets and their owners 24/7, 365 days a year. We focus exclusively on emergency treatment and advanced internal medicine specialty veterinary care. (For annual vaccines and wellness care, please see your primary care veterinarian.) In an emergency, call ahead to your BluePearl vet hospital in Scottsdale and let us know you’re coming. No appointment is necessary for our emergency vet.
Types of Specialties & Services
Each BluePearl pet hospital is unique. Our Scottsdale hospital offers these specialties provided by skilled, compassionate and dedicated professionals.
Interventional radiology (IR) is a specialized medical treatment that enables veterinarians to use a special camera to diagnose and potentially treat medical conditions from inside your pet.
Interventional radiology was developed for human patients who were not stable enough to have traditional surgery.
In veterinary patients, interventional radiology procedures are gaining popularity as they offer solutions for pets with minimal discomfort, reduce hospital stays and often offer reduced after care for the owners.
This video features a small dog with a collapsed trachea. Interventional radiology was used to place a stent, allowing him to breathe normally again.
One common type of interventional procedure involves relieving obstructions in the urinary tract. The blockage could be stones, a mass or anatomical abnormality. IR techniques can remove the blockages or create room for urine to move past them. IR can also be used to relieve obstructions in the respiratory or cardiovascular system.
“It’s about solving problems,” says Dr. Sara Ford, a BluePearl veterinary specialist who is board-certified in Internal Medicine. “Interventional radiology lets us creatively diagnose and treat many medical problems with minimal risk for the pet.”
IR procedures can be used to treat a number of conditions including tracheal collapse, kidney stones, ureteral obstruction, and bladder stones that traditionally would have required surgery. By entering the body through natural openings, such as the nasal passage or urethra or through a small incision, specialists can use small, mobile cameras and tools to address conditions within the body.
Because these procedures require a minimal incision, or no incision at all, your pet will suffer less discomfort, need fewer stitches, recover faster, and require a shorter hospital stay. In many cases, your pet won’t even have to stay overnight.
When surgery is necessary, such as with a fracture, interventional radiology can still work as a complementary tool. A C-arm X-Ray machine that uses fluoroscopy (video x-ray) can help the specialists monitor their progress during surgery and make adjustments as they are needed in real-time.
Interventional radiology uses advanced imaging technology like these to identify causes of disease.
These techniques allow specialists an almost complete visualization of your pet’s body. Because the specialists can see detailed images of your pet, they can better diagnose conditions and create highly focused treatment plans.
Commonly performed interventional radiology and endoscopic procedures focus on the urinary tract (endourology), the respiratory tract and the cardiovascular system.
Tracheal collapse is a serious medical condition that is common in small breed dogs (Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians and Poodles). Tracheal collapse occurs when a dog has an abnormality of their trachea (windpipe) that causes the airway to narrow as the patient breathes,” says Dr Ford. “Even with medications, these dogs live with discomfort, and can die if the tracheal collapse becomes so severe that the airway completely obstructs. These pets all have decreased quality of life at home. Placing a tracheal stent offers immediate improvement with limited risk of side effects to the patient.”
Before interventional radiology techniques were available, bladder stones required invasive surgery. With surgery, the patient’s abdomen and bladder would be cut open and the stones removed.
Dr. Scott Rizzo, a BluePearl veterinary specialist who is board-certified in Internal Medicine, explains how interventional methods have improved this treatment. “We do what’s called a Percutaneous Cystolithorotomy or ‘PCCL’. In this procedure, we make a 2 mm incision. We put a port in, insert a camera and grab the stones with a tiny, claw-type basket. Because we have a camera in there, we don’t leave any stones behind. It’s thorough and it’s outpatient. Your pet can go home the same day.”
Kidney stones are painful and all-too-common for pets (just like humans). Even if the stones pass during urination, they can damage your pet’s urinary system. Interventional radiology allows our specialists to find the stones and break them up using innovative technology.
“First, we insert a scope to see the problem area. The scope has a channel. We put a laser fiber up through that tube. When we place the laser fiber next to a stone, the laser breaks up the stones with a shock wave. The smaller pieces can then be removed or passed,” says Dr. Rizzo.
Kidney Stones in Cats
“Cats tend to get stones up by the kidneys. Just like in people, when the stone starts to move, it blocks the urine flow. It’s painful,” says Dr. Rizzo. “In cats, the ureter (the duct through which urine passes from the kidney to the bladder) is quite small. Veterinary surgeons used to try to cut the ureter and remove the obstruction. With interventional radiology, we can now put in a small ureteral bypass to allow the urine to flow from the kidney to the bladder.”
Other causes of ureteral obstruction include mucous or blood “plugs” that form due to kidney infections or other causes.
Other Conditions Treatable with IR
Whether your pet is having urinary accidents all over the house, straining to urinate or gasping for breath, there are new, less invasive options out there. Interventional radiology offers highly effective solutions that simply weren’t possible just a few years ago.
“There are so many options for minimally invasive procedures to help these animals.” says Dr. Ford, “ Being able to offer these procedures is good for both the pet and the owner.”
If you’re wondering if interventional radiology could provide an answer to your pet’s problem, ask your vet for a referral to a BluePearl veterinary specialist. Or contact the BluePearl Pet Hospital closest to you.