Celebrating image-guided surgery this International Day of Radiology

Monday 8 November 2021

Today marks the tenth International Day of Radiology (IDOR), a day where imaging teams around the world celebrate and highlight the vital role clinical radiology plays in advancing and safeguarding patient care.

This year’s IDOR event pays special thanks to the crucial work of interventional radiology (IR) in emergency and routine patient care, with the motto of celebrating “interventional radiology – active care for the patient”.

Interventional radiologists are specially trained doctors who – working alongside specialist radiographers and nurses – use real-time X-rays and ultrasound while conducting minimally invasive surgical procedures. Many of these image-guided procedures are life-saving or life-altering, including stopping severe bleeding and removing the blood clots that cause strokes. Important non-emergency IR procedures include destroying cancer tumours, treating painful uterine fibroids, urinary and biliary tract blockages and clearing clots.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic interventional radiologists demonstrated their importance and versatility both on the coronavirus frontline, helping with line insertions and drainages in intensive care, as well as treating appropriate surgical cases away from covid “hot” hospital sites.  

The RCR sets the training standards for interventional radiologists. We are guided on topical issues by a dedicated IR Committee and champion greater provision of IR in the NHS.

Our annual UK workforce reports show that the interventional radiologist workforce is growing across much of the UK, but there is still a big gap in terms of providing adequate care for patients. There are now 685 full-time IRs in the UK, 21% more than in 2015. However, the NHS still needs at least another 364 IR consultants to meet advised safe staffing levels.

The RCR wants to use this year’s IDOR to say a big thank you to all of the IRs and IR teams in the UK and around the world, especially given how they have adapted and shone throughout the past 18 months. We will continue to advocate at the highest levels for increased investment in training, capacity and resources for this amazing, state-of-the-art sub-specialty. 

RCR President Dr Jeanette Dickson said:

“IR is an exciting and truly technological specialty that combines state-of-the-art imaging with practical procedures to save patients’ lives or immeasurably improve quality of life. I am proud to support my IR colleagues who provide 24/7 support and care for their own patients, as well as those under the care of other medical teams, such as surgery and gynaecology.

“Our new curricula and the plan to bring more elements of IR training into early specialist training from August 2022 will work towards further growing the specialty and improving access for patients."

Dr Raman Uberoi, the RCR’s Medical Director of Professional Practice for Clinical Radiology and an Oxford-based interventional radiologist, said:

“IR is transforming the way patients are managed in modern hospitals, and I am proud to be an interventional radiologist. Our use of minimally invasive techniques and state-of-the-art imaging, as well as interventional equipment, means patients can be treated for a variety of life-saving or life-changing complex, benign and malignant disease via tiny incisions that are just 1-2cm in size.

“The quick, minimally invasive nature of IR techniques means that many critical patient procedures – from stenting an aneurysm to treating tumours with ablation or embolisation – can be done in a day, which has been an invaluable help to stretched surgical services throughout the coronavirus pandemic.”