Dr. Hammed Ninalowo explains “Interventional Radiology” | Radio Now Explains

Radio Now Exclusives, Radio now explains - by RadioNow / Apr. 1st, 2021
dr hammed ninalowo

A report by the National Cancer Control Plan estimates that a little over 100 thousand new cases of cancer are recorded annually, with an increasing number of fibroid and prostrate cases among women and men. The importance of treatments that are affordable and accessible can not be overstated in a medical sector as dynamic as Nigeria’s. In this light, treatments such as interventional radiology (IR) could provide new hope.

Interventional radiology is a field of medicine that utilizes minimally invasive techniques and imaging to diagnose and treat diseases. To gain a better understanding of this “new” medical sub-speciality, Radio Now spoke to Vascular and Interventional Radiologist, Dr. Hammed Ninalowo. He explained IR, and talked about how it can improve the efficiency of medical services in Nigeria.

According to Dr. Ninalowo, interventional radiology is: “a speciality of medicine where we use image guidance, mostly x-rays, ultrasound, CT scanners, to find our way into areas of the body that previously were only accessible through surgeries”.

How does it work?
A tiny incision is made in the body, through which a catheter, containing needles, & wires, is passed into the body to carry out the operation with the use of image guidance to check the direction and guide its movement.

A medical catheter is a tube used to deliver medication, fluids, and/ or gases to patients and also to drain bodily fluids from patients.


How is it different from regular radiology or x-ray?
Dr. Ninalowo notes that with diagnostic radiology the human body is scanned, and the produced image is used to diagnose diseases. However; “What we do in interventional radiology is different, we use those images to treat people, so we go a step further, where we go inside the human body and navigate through the imaging to treat diseases.”

Who does it?
The procedure is conducted by a vascular and interventional radiologist.


Who needs it and what / where can is it useful?
Dr. Ninalowo says that there a lot of patients who need it as it would solve many problems: “There is a field of interventional radiology called neuro-interventional radiology, where we treat brain aneurysms and vascular malformations in the brain”

“It is used for a biopsy on the body without having to cut people open, essentially we could see from an image and we could essentially treat every type of disease from the head down to the toe.”

Where is it necessary?
It is typically necessary where there is a pathology, pathology in this case refers to abnormalities in the body, which cause problems for the patient and this will typically serve as an alternative to surgeries in a lot of cases.

Dr. Ninalowo describes the procedure as “quite affordable”, with patients being discharged relatively quicker from the hospital, compared to open surgeries where patients are hospitalized for extended periods.

He explains that a man who undergoes a process called embolization was discharged the same day he was booked for the procedure. Embolization is the blockage of vessels in the man’s brain which was causing him to bleed multiple times and was discharged that same day.

How safe it is?
Radiation exposure is a common concern when dealing with X-Ray imaging. Whilst exposure levels are lower with interventional radiology, precautionary steps are still needed by both doctors and patients, with Doctors equipping themselves with lead jackets for protection. Dr. Ninalowo compares the radiation level from exposure to IR, to that of an airline flight.

He adds that every field of medicine is now turning to interventional radiology. “It is incredibly sad that here in Nigeria, Nigerian patients have not had access to interventional radiology for years,” he says.

Dr. Hammed Ninalowo returned to Nigeria after he completed training at the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. His decision to return to Nigeria, and change the landscape of medicine pushed him to found IRDOCNIGERIA, an interventional radiology foundation with the mission to locally provide the “life-changing”, minimally invasive, image-guided surgical technique.

You can listen to our interview with Dr. Ninalowo in audio and video formats, linked above.

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