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When Emergency Care is Needed, Interventional Radiology Suite Can Help

June 4, 2014

It had been just a regular December morning for Almeter Montgomery, but by that night, she had been to the emergency room, admitted to the ICU and had a minimally-invasive procedure to repair a lower gastrointestinal bleed.

Thanks to a new interventional radiology suite at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, Montgomery could be treated at a hospital where the staff is familiar with her and where she’s comfortable.

Before the new suite, she probably would have been transferred to Barnes-Jewish Hospital for the procedure, says Seth Klein, MD, Washington University interventional radiologist at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, who was Montgomery’s doctor.

Interventional radiologists like Dr. Klein and his colleagues use X-rays, CT, ultrasound and other imaging to navigate small instruments, like catheters, through blood vessels and organs to diagnose and treat a variety of diseases.

What brought Montgomery, 64, to the hospital was growing stomach pains throughout the day and blood in the toilet bowl. “My husband said we’re going to the hospital because the pain kept getting worse and the bleeding continued,” she recalls. “We went to Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital because they are very efficient, take good care of you and it’s our hospital.”

As a patient with a history of diverticulosis and other health concerns, Montgomery’s loss of blood, abdominal pain and feelings of lightheadedness were all concerns for Dr. Klein when he was asked to see her in the ICU. By early evening, she was taken to the interventional radiology suite, where a team of skilled nurses and technologists worked alongside Dr. Klein.

He first performed a diagnostic angiogram through the femoral artery to localize the site of bleeding in the colon. Then he occluded the target artery with two small embolization coils deposited through a catheter to stop the bleeding.

Following the procedure, Montgomery remained at the hospital for observation for several more days to ensure she was stabilized and that there was no further bleeding, says Dr. Klein, who emphasized the importance of the team approach between interventional radiology, medical and surgical providers in treating patients.  

“I was happy with my care because everyone was very thorough,” Montgomery says. “Dr. Klein was very good about explaining what was going on. I was so relieved because I had never felt pain like that before.”

Interventional radiology has been available at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital for several years, but it’s been just in the last year when critically ill patients like Mrs. Montgomery could be cared for at the hospital due to the new interventional radiology suite, says Michael Darcy, MD, Washington University chief of interventional radiology at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital.

Thanks to its increased size, two state-of-the-art procedure rooms, five holding area bays and a large waiting room for families, patients can be treated for both emergent cases such as internal bleeding, as well as elective procedures like uterine fibroid embolization and varicose vein ablation. Patients are referred to the Interventional Radiology Clinic at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital by other specialists and physicians or by self-referrals.

“Interventional radiologists are able to do a number of minimally invasive, image-guided procedures across many disciplines,” Dr. Darcy says. “The procedures are less invasive and more targeted, minimizing pain, risk to patients and recovery time.”

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Klein or Dr. Darcy or any physician at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, call 314.542.WEST (9378).

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