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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is vascular interventional radiology?

A. Vascular interventional radiology (VIR or IR) is a medical specialty that uses medical images such as x-ray fluoroscopy and ultrasound to guide small instruments through blood vessels and other routes into the body to diagnose and treat abnormalities and disorders of blood vessels and other internal organs. Entry into blood vessels and other organs is usually gained through a small, anesthetized skin nick only a few millimeters in length, rather than through large incisions. Because of the small size of instruments used (usually based on flexible tubes 1-3 mm. in diameter), most interventional procedures can be done with light sedation and local anesthesia rather than general anesthesia. Consequently, risks, recovery time, and costs are less than those associated with conventional open surgery.

Q. What is an interventional radiologist?

A. An interventional radiologist (IR) is a medical doctor who specializes in performing minimally invasive procedures guided by x-ray fluoroscopy, CT, and ultrasound. All interventional radiologists with the Vein & Interventional Clinic are fully trained diagnostic radiologists and are board certified by the American College of Radiology (ACR) in diagnostic radiology. They also have additional certification by the ACR in vascular interventional radiology.

Q. How do I reach an interventional radiologist for an after-hours emergency?

A. St. Luke's patients can call the interventional lab at 319-369-7482 or radiology at 319-369-7363. Mercy Medical Center patients can call the Mercy cardiovascular lab at 319-221-8565 or radiology at 319-398-6050.

Q. I am scheduled to have a procedure done at one of the hospitals. Where should I go?

A. Mercy Medical Center patients should come to the Cardiovascular Recovery Bay on the ground floor of the Lundy Pavilion (the large, glass-front entrance area on Eighth Avenue). A nurse from this area usually calls the patient at home with directions on the day before the procedure.

St. Luke's patients should come to Surgicare on the second floor of the hospital. This is most directly approached from the top (fourth) level of the parking structure in back of the hospital building. A nurse usually calls the patient at home at least one day in advance of the procedure with instructions.

Q. I am scheduled to have a procedure done at one of the hospitals. What do I need to do to prepare for the procedure?

A. If you are having an arteriogram, angioplasty, biopsy, or other procedure requiring you to go through Surgicare (at St. Luke's) or Cardiovascular Outpatient Recovery (at Mercy) for preparation, you should have no solid foods after midnight the night before the procedure, unless the procedure is scheduled in the afternoon. Patients having afternoon procedures may have a light breakfast. You may have clear liquids (water, tea, coffee) up to three hours before the procedure. You should take your regular medicines on the morning of the procedure, especially blood pressure medications. If you are taking blood thinners such as Coumadin, and they have not been stopped a few days before the procedure, you should tell the admitting nurse. Blood tests will be taken before the procedure on most patients to make sure the procedure can be done safely. Diabetics on insulin should take half their usual morning dose if they do not eat breakfast. Patients having non-invasive peripheral vascular (PV) lab exams, vascular ultrasound exams, or MRA exams do not need to go through Surgicare or Cardiovascular Outpatient Recovery, and there is no special preparation. Patients having CTA (CT angiography) exams should not have solid foods within six hours prior to the exam, and blood tests may be ordered to make sure kidney function is normal before giving CT contrast (dye).

Q. What is your billing and insurance policy?

A. The Vein & Interventional Clinic will directly bill your insurance company for medically necessary procedures, with any copayment due at the time of service. We do not bill insurance companies for cosmetic services. Payment for cosmetic services is collected prior to the procedure. Major credit cards and/or debit cards are welcome. We accept all major insurance carried by Cedar Rapids employers.

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