IRIG: Interventional Radiology Interest Group
"A Stubborn Patient.."
She might have been referred to as a “stubborn patient;” however, this inspiring patient was later credited for one of the most important turns in the history of medicine—she was the first IR patient. The story began on January 16, 1964 at Oregon Health & Science University Hospital, when an 82-year-old female patient with femoral artery stenosis, severe pain, leg ischemia, and gangrene refused to have her leg amputated, despite a surgeon’s urgent recommendation. Instead, she asked for an alternative solution. "I want to go home walking on my feet, not on a wheelchair," she insisted repeatedly. At that time in 1964, however, the alternatives were NONE!
It just so happened on that particular day, a visionary radiologist at Oregon Health, Dr. Charles Dotter, now considered the Father of Interventional Radiology, heard her story and offered to help this suffering patient. Using a guidewire and coaxial Teflon catheters under x-ray guidance, Dr. Dotter was able to mobilize the clot, and the circulation returned to the patient’s leg. It was that simple: a small skin incision, a simple guidewire, and an x-ray guiding machine that had allowed this 82-year-old patient to return home walking on both her legs, not wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life, and lived until her death from pneumonia 2.5 years later in mid-1966.
Dr. Dotter’s vision of the powerful ability of radiographic-guided, minimally-invasive endovascular intervention and the success of this patient’s case has led to the birth of Interventional Radiology, marking the day, January 16, 1964, as one of the most important turns in the history of medicine.
This female patient did not ask for much. She simply asked for a better life for herself, having no idea that what she was about to ask for was not only going to impact her life but also the lives of millions of patients around the world!
Today IR is no longer limited to angioplasty—the field has exploded in the past fifty years to include every specialty in medicine from pediatrics to geriatrics and palliative care. Additionally, it has further divided into several subspecialties, such as interventional neurology, interventional cardiology, interventional oncology, vascular surgery, and a variety of other highly specialized areas in medicine. IR is currently the fastest growing field in medicine with a total of more than 200 certified procedures.
If you are interested in IR, please contact us, or read the sirweb.org article, “The Birth, Early Years, and Future of Interventional Radiology” by Josef Rösch, MD, in the link here.