Initial Certification for Interventional Radiology

Studying for the IR/DR Certifying Exam

Last verified on March 16, 2023
ABR exams are developed by volunteers from a wide range of practice settings and reflect the breadth of information a candidate is expected to know by the time of an exam. While we offer study guides on our website, each candidate should decide what type of resources he or she should use for our exams. Candidates who use test preparation materials developed by other organizations or commercial entities should not expect an ABR exam to completely align with these materials regarding the scope or item types on ABR exams.
To understand how exam questions are written and learn more about different types of exam questions, please see the ABR Item Writers’ Guide. For a look at the extensive QA process that each question goes through, please see the Illustrated Life Cycle of an ABR Exam Item.

Computerized Portion Study Guides

Candidates who do not have ABR certification in diagnostic radiology will take the computerized portion of the exam, which has two required models: Essentials of Diagnostic Radiology and Interventional Radiology.
Study guides for the two required modules can be found at these links:
Essentials of Diagnostic Radiology Study Guide
Vascular/Interventional Radiology Study Guide
The Essentials of Diagnostic Radiology module will contain Noninterpretive Skills (NIS) content. The Noninterpretive Skills Study Guide provides detailed content that examinees are expected to know to answer the NIS questions. All material that will be included in the NIS module is included in the syllabus. If changes are made to this exam module, the syllabus will be updated accordingly.
The second portion of the Radioisotope Safety Content (RISC) is also integrated into the computerized portion of the exam. For studying, please refer to the RISC Domain Document.

Oral Portion Study Guide

All candidates for the IR/DR certification, including those who are already certified in diagnostic radiology, will take the oral portion of the IR/DR certifying exam. The following is a study guide for the oral portion of the exam.
  1. Exam content: general description
    Individual cases may emphasize one area of competency more than the others. At all times, competencies in image-guided procedure, periprocedural patient management, and image interpretation will be assessed by the candidate’s examiner.
    • The exam structure has changed from that of the Vascular and Interventional Radiology Subspecialty oral exam and is now organized into two major groups: Imaging of IR and Intervention.
    • Imaging of IR cases will emphasize image interpretation related to IR. This includes CTA, MRA, US, vascular US, Nuclear Medicine, SPECT/PET, invasive angiography/venography/lymphangiography, invasive biliary/genitourinary imaging, and plain films. Images may be pre-procedure diagnostic studies, intraprocedural imaging, or follow-up imaging. Patient management as related to the imaging findings may be discussed.
    • Intervention cases will emphasize periprocedural management, and procedures, but also include procedure-related image interpretation.
    • Periprocedural management includes pre-procedure or disease-related work-up, consultation, patient selection, imaging, medical management; and post-procedure medical management, imaging, follow-up, identification and management of complications or inadequate outcomes, and disease-specific management.
    • Procedures includes indications and contraindications, procedural planning, procedural techniques, device selection and utilization, intra-procedural patient management, procedural endpoints, identification and management of intra-procedural complications, and knowledge of expected outcomes.
    • The Intervention portion of the exam has been designed in a manner that should more closely reflect actual clinical practice and will allow the exam to be adapted to changes in clinical practice over time. Rather than organization and labeling by subject areas, the 30-minute exams will be assembled with Imaging and Intervention cases in roughly a 1:3 ration (Imaging of IR: Intervention).
    • The Intervention cases are grouped into six “buckets” or topic areas. There are no specific requirements for the number of cases from each bucket in the exam, although each topic area will be examined. This approach permits construction of an exam that covers the full spectrum of IR and can be flexible to reflect changes in clinical practice. This format also allows adjustment and revision of the exam content over time. These “buckets” and samples of contents are as follows. (Note that this is not a comprehensive or complete listing.)
      • Arterial interventions
        • Revascularization, aneurysm/pseudoaneurysm management, embolization, infusion therapy
      • Venous interventions
        • Revascularization, acute and chronic thrombus management, reflux management, embolization, sampling
      • Oncology interventions
        • Embolization, ablation
      • Core IR
        • Percutaneous biopsy, fluid drainage, venous access, percutaneous enteral access, foreign body removal, management of malignant effusions/ascites, pancreas
      • Biliary/GU interventions
        • Organ drainage, stent placement, management of stones, recanalization, occlusion
      • Miscellaneous procedures
        • Portal hypertension, musculoskeletal (including spine), pain management, lymphatic
    • Pediatric and quality of care/patient safety content is incorporated into all of the “buckets.” For example, abscess drainage, and renal artery angioplasty in children, will be included in the appropriate buckets. Similarly, radiation safety and management of intra-procedural crises will be incorporated into appropriate cases in all buckets.
  2. Appendix: Topics included in the exam
    This is a general outline and is not all-inclusive.
    • CT and CTA
    • MRI and MRA
    • Noninvasive vascular lab
    • Vascular ultrasonography
    • Venous color flow imaging
    • Arterial color flow imaging
    • Doppler
    • Ankle: brachial indices
    • Segmental limb pressures
    • Pulse volume recordings (PVRs)
    • Arteriography (all)
    • Thoracic aorta and brachiocephalic arteries, including carotids
    • Upper extremity arteries
    • Lower extremity arteries
    • Abdominal and pelvic arteries
    • Collateral pathways
    • Hemodynamics
    • Venography and venous sampling
    • Head and neck
    • Upper extremity veins
    • Lower extremity veins
    • Pelvic veins
    • Portal and mesenteric veins
    • Superior vena cava
    • Inferior vena cava
    • Collateral pathways
    • Hemodynamics
    • Pulmonary angiography
    • Pulmonary arteries
    • Pulmonary veins
    • Hemodynamics
    • Dialysis access evaluations
    • Dialysis access intervention
    • Lymphangiography
    • Venous access (all: tunneled, nontunneled, ports)
    • IVC filter placement and retrieval
    • Foreign body retrieval
    • Venous ablation (varicose veins)
    • TIPS and TIPS evaluation/revision
    • Venous Angioplasty/stents/covered stents, venous (all)
    • Arterial angioplasty/stents/atherectomy/covered stents
    • Thrombolytic therapy, thrombectomy: arterial and venous
    • Aortic endografting (thoracic and/or abdominal)
    • Embolization, emergency (trauma, GI bleed, bronchial bleed, pseudoaneurysm, other)
    • Embolization, including elective, arterial, and venous
    • Chemoembolization (TACE/DEB TACE)
    • Radioembolization
    • Tumor ablation
    • Transcatheter infusion therapy (e.g., vasopressin)
    • Biopsy
    • All organs
    • Abscess drainage
    • Body cavity
    • Organ
    • Tube management
    • Paracentesis, thoracentesis
    • Chest tube placement
    • Tunneled catheter drainage of refractory pleural effusion or ascites
    • Biliary intervention
    • PTC
    • Biliary drainage
    • Biliary stents
    • Biliary biopsy
    • Percutaneous management of retained  bile duct stones
    • Cholecystostomy
    • Urinary intervention
    • Nephrostomy
    • Nephroureterostomy
    • Nephrostolithotomy tract establishment and dilatation
    • Suprapubic cystostomy
    • Percutaneous enteral access
    • Gastrostomy/gastrojejunostomy
    • Jejunostomy
    • Cyst and lymphocele management
    • Gastrointestinal stents
    • Transplant interventions, miscellaneous
    • Pain management
    • Vertebroplasty
    • Fallopian tube recanalization
    • Hospital inpatient care
    • Follow-up post intervention
    • Quality & safety activities
    • Radiation safety
    • Life support principles
    • Principles of image quality
    • Contrast material
    • Conscious sedation