Neuroradiology is a sub-specialty of radiology involved in diagnostic exams and interventional (endovascular) procedures dealing with central nervous system, comprising of brain and spinal cord.
This area of medicine is characterized by extremely rapid development over last decades, largely influenced by technical advances, with continuing education and enthusiasm of neuroradiologists.
The most often used and important diagnostic methods in neuroradiology are computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which provide tomographic imaging (images viewed as slices) in various planes in space.
CT detects the apsorption of x-ray beams in the imaged body area and measures the tissue density, thus providing the differentiation of tissues, as well as the display of pathological processes.
MRI uses the inherently different magnetic properties of different tissues, providing excellent images of soft tissues. Apart from the anatomic display of body structure, neuroradiology often uses the insight into brain function, methabolic changes, microcirculation and the architecture at the cellular level of our tissues.
The imaging of both methods requires the patient to lay still in the scanner, in a tunnel-like space. CT is a rapid method, lasting several minutes, while MRI usually takes longer time, between 20 minutes an an hour, depending on diagnostic process. The intravenous administration of contrast media may also be required.
Interventional radiology is a practice which uses so-called minimally invasive procedures for treatment and/or diagnostics. Neuroradiology almost exclusively offers procedures on brain and spine blood vessels, which in a large percentage of patients nowadays replaces open neurosurgery. The advantages of these procedures are generally lower risk for patients and expected faster recovery, resulting in shorter hospitalization. The downside is the use of x-rays during the procedure which can not be raeplaced by other technique. Some patients, nevertheless, still benefit more from open surgery.
The synonims for these treatment methods are radiological intervention, endovascular procedure, embolisation and/or stenting. The diseases and states most often treated by such procedures are the narrowing (stenosis) of neck or brain arteries, aneurysms (localized outpouchings) of brain arteries, arterio-venous malformations (AVMs) and fistulas (AVFs), and the treatment of acute stroke in an early phase ofter onset.