Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
MD Education

Interventional Radiology

"Improved imaging techniques, combined with the development of various catheters, have given rise to a field known as interventional radiology. This subspecialty enables radiologists to do much more than just diagnose. These specialists use medical images to help guide small instruments such as catheters through blood vessels or other anatomic pathways in the percutaneous treatment of disease. With these invasive techniques, interventional radiologists are in many ways similar to surgeons. They scrub in, gown up, and perform procedures that are often invasive enough to require general anesthesia. Some examples include draining abscesses, opening blocked areas of the cardiovascular system, creating vascular shunts in the liver, and inserting various devices into patients requiring long-term vascular access (for things like chemotherapy, antibiotics, or dialysis). As you can see, these radiologists combine the fundamentals of diagnostic radiology with the technical and clinical skills of a surgeon."

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York, p.432.

Show All Answers

M1 and M2 Students

  • What advice would you offer first- and second-year students who are interested in pursuing your specialty?

    Join the Northwestern IR interest group. Meet and network with other medical students who are interested in the field.

    Meet with an interventional radiologist and shadow them for a day so you can see firsthand what the specialty involves. Find an IR mentor.

    Do a Focused Clinical Experience (FCE) in the Interventional Radiology department. FCEs in IR are offered across multiple units: renal, endocrine, pulmonary and GI.

    Join the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR). Membership for medical students is free. The Resident-Fellow-Section is quite active, offering frequent opportunities to network, participate in educational webcasts and attend regional symposia. In addition, SIR offers yearly scholarship to medical students to attend the annual meeting.

    Join the Radiologic Society of North America, which is also free to medical students. While not specific to IR, the society holds its annual radiologic conference in Chicago every year with a great deal of IR content.

  • How important is a research experience in your specialty? If important, does it need to be in the specialty itself?

    Research experience is very helpful, but not an absolute necessity to succeed in IR. Performing research enables a student to gain more insight and demonstrate their interest.

M3 and M4 Students

Interventional Radiology Resources

Request an IR Adviser

Kent Sato, MD

Kent Sato, MD 
Interventional Radiology Career Advising Coordinator

View Profile