Sunday, February 8, 2009

Interventional Radiologist Salary

An interventional radiologist is a sub-specialized radiologist. After completing an internship and four year diagnostic radiology residency, one must also complete a one year fellowship in interventional radiology (IR) to become an interventional radiologist. 

What does someone in interventional radiology (IR) do? 

An interventional radiologist is actually quite different from the typical diagnostic radiologist. In IR, the focus is on performing procedures using imaging techniques rather than interpreting studies. An IR specialist can utilize a number of modalities, including ultrasound, CT, and fluoroscopy. Procedures can range from simple line placements to complex procedures involving delivery of therapeutics, long term implantable devices, or embolizations. 

What is compensation like in interventional radiology?

Like most radiologists, IR specialists are well compensated. The numbers change from year to year due to radiologist salary trends, but if one presumes the average diagnostic radiologist's salary to be $350,000, then the average interventionalist will make roughly $50,000 more. Bear in mind that many factors impact this differential. First, location and years out of residency will have a significant impact on the actual salary. Second, your practice setting will also matter a great deal. In general, private practice interventionalists can expect to earn double academic interventionalists, but will also likely work more as well as parttake of more of the traditional diagnostic film reading. Even within private practice, one must consider whether the partners are compensated on equal terms or based on revenue generated. Still, compared to other surgical subspecialties, IR is very competitive with basically all of them, expect perhaps neurosurgery / spine surgery. 

Is the salary differential worth it?

This is a difficult question to answer. First and foremost, you should pursue a field that you love. However, that's easier said than done. If you have an interest in vascular surgery vs. interventional radiology, or neuroradiology vs. interventional radiology, how does one decide? You should try talking to peers or others within the field, but at some point, compensation does become an issue. One must realize that IR is more demanding than other fields within radiology, and the compensation boost is not necessarily proportional to that difference. However, if it is a field that you find interesting, the incentive itself will not matter so much. The work will be rewarding and that in itself will make it worthwhile. And, hey, it's radiology: the salary will be adequate in any case. 

What does the future hold for interventional radiology?

No one can predict the future. However, it seems a pretty safe assumption that IR will continue to compensate well. While this economy has made everyone more cautious, one of the benefits of a career in medicine is relatively good job and salary stability compared to other fields. While no one knows exactly what the future holds, it is hard to envision a future where IR is "outsourced" or compensation declines, especially as new technologies are developed which expand the span and scope of the field. 


  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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  2. Interventional radiologists are about to get a whole lot more attention due to the brilliant work of their colleague Paolo Zamboni and his new vascular theory of multiple sclerosis. Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI. There are 500,000 MS patients in north america waiting for this summer's clinical trials to test his theory further.

  3. I want to ask about the radiation exposure, as a female doctor I have interest in interventional radiology but is it safe?

  4. @Mayse: In general, interventional radiology is a safe profession for female doctors to enter. However, how 'safe' one is depends on several factors. First, you have to be well informed about radiation safety and take precautions yourself to limit exposure, such as minimizing radiation and always wearing appropriate leaded protection. Second, you should work in a facility that also adheres to rigorous safety standards. Lastly, you should monitor your radiation exposure closely through the use of dosimetry badges. If you do so, you should be fine.

  5. Hello there,
    I am a medical graduate from India... I wanted to know that if I do my Radiology residency from India itself,
    then how difficult will it be for me to get into a reasonable good interventional radiology fellowship programme at US. And if I get in will I be allowed to practice in US after completing my fellowship ?