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Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center - Richmond, VA


New IR procedures Come to Richmond

Interventional Radiology

Members of the interventional radiology team prepare to perform a radioembolization procedure to treat liver cancer. This procedure is referred to as Y-90 because of the radioactive isotope Yttrium-90, which is used in the procedure. (Photo by Dr. Jinsy Babu, Health Physicist and Radiation Safety Officer)

By Yanitz Irizzary, Public Affairs Specialist
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Ever since the Interventional Radiology (IR) ribbon-cutting last November, the IR team has made great strides to ensure Veterans receive cutting-edge procedures at McGuire VA Medical Center. Some of these interventions include advanced procedures to treat liver cancer and aortic aneurysms.

“I have worked in Radiology at McGuire for 2 ½ years, and I have seen significant changes in what we are able to offer our Veterans,” said Jennifer Farrell, Nurse Clinical Coordinator for Radiology and Nuclear Medicine. “Interventional Radiology has developed tremendously, with two dedicated fellowship-trained interventionalists and a new state-of-the-art lab. Dr. Jonathan Ha and Dr. Mack Hendrix are extremely innovative and always in-tune with the latest medical practice.”

Many of these minimally invasive procedures are considered by the medical community to be a safer alternative than surgery, have less recovery time and provide targeted treatment options where there were once few options.

In July, McGuire successfully completed its first radioembolization procedure to treat liver cancer. Radioembolization is referred to as Y-90 because of the radioactive isotope Yttrium-90, which is used in the procedure. In order to bring this procedure to the facility, it required a complex approval process spearheaded by Hendrix, Director of Interventional Oncology, and a special permit through the National Health Physics Program.

The Joint Commission, which oversees the accreditation process for hospitals in the U.S., was present at this first procedure. According to Dr. Jinsy Babu, Health Physicist and Radiation Safety Officer, The Joint Commission was impressed and said they would ask other IR labs to emulate the processes at McGuire for Y-90 procedures.

“Our dedicated staff providers are excellent,” said Babu. “If I was a patient, I would come here for Y-90.”

Dr. Ha, Director of Interventional Radiology, working in conjunction with Dr. Gundars Katlaps, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, performed the hospital’s first Percutaneous Thoracic Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (TEVAR) in September.

TEVAR keeps a thoracic aortic aneurysm, or dissection, from rupturing by inserting a self-expanding stent graft across the area of injury.  Different from traditional TEVARS, this procedure was done all through small skin incisions, allowing the patient to be on their feet the next day. 

“It’s a minimally invasive therapy for potentially life threatening aortic disease,” said Hendrix. “It was a great collaboration between Cardio Thoracic Surgery and IR. Everything went really smooth.”

The IR team constantly works together between the procedure room and adjoining control room to ensure valuable information is exchanged before, during and after each procedure.
According to Babu, McGuire’s interventionalists are among the highest-trained individuals in healthcare, and the IR labs are some of the best he has ever seen.


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