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BackTable / MSK / Podcast / Episode #27

Palliative Care in IR

with Dr. Sean Tutton

In this episode, host Dr. Eric Keller interviews Dr. Sean Tutton about palliative care as an interventionalist, how he became interested in palliative care, and why he believes it is a crucial aspect of patient care in interventional radiology.

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Palliative Care in IR with Dr. Sean Tutton on the BackTable MSK Podcast)
Ep 27 Palliative Care in IR with Dr. Sean Tutton
00:00 / 01:04

BackTable, LLC (Producer). (2023, August 16). Ep. 27 – Palliative Care in IR [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from

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Podcast Contributors

Dr. Sean Tutton discusses Palliative Care in IR on the BackTable 27 Podcast

Dr. Sean Tutton

Dr. Sean Tutton is an interventional radiologist and clincial professor with UC San Diego in California.

Dr. Eric J. Keller discusses Palliative Care in IR on the BackTable 27 Podcast

Dr. Eric J. Keller

Dr. Eric Keller is an interventional and diagnostic radiology resident physician at Stanford.


The role of palliative care is to talk with patients about their goals, make them comfortable, optimize medical management, help patients understand their diagnosis, and coordinate care. Though palliative care involvement does not mean a patient is close to death, many palliative care patients will enroll in hospice at some point. Once in hospice, life-prolonging therapies are no longer pursued. Hospice care is a benefit of Medicare. It has support such as home care, and it can be expensive but is covered by the government. Due to this, there are guidelines that need to be adhered to. Frequently, palliative interventional pain procedures such as a celiac plexus block or neurolysis may not be covered so patients may have to come off hospice to get the procedure, then go back on.

Next, we talk about how an IR can start to incorporate these ideals and practices into their daily work. Dr. Tutton emphasizes that you don’t need to do the fellowship. You can start rounding with palliative care, go to their conferences, and establish relationships. Having residents and fellows rotate with palliative care is a great way for future IRs to learn how to practice with a palliative care mindset, and also to educate palliative care on the minimally invasive options that IR can offer to patients such as nerve blocks and ablations. By adopting palliative care ideals as an interventionalist, you can help your patients achieve better pain control, improve their cognition and reduce narcotics use.

Dr. Tutton recommends all IRs understand the medical management of post-op pain for any procedure they perform. He provides a standard medication regimen for a patient having an ablation. He uses Tylenol 1g pre-op and gabapentin 300-600mg 48-72hrs before the procedure and intraoperative steroids and NSAIDs such as Decadron 8-10mg and Toradol 10-30mg. All of these have level 1 data, help reduce narcotic requirements, and help with post-op nausea and pain. He discharges patients on a Medrol dose pack, ibuprofen, Tylenol, and gabapentin for a couple of days. Doing a nerve block can help as well, he frequently does ankle, digital, intercostal, and hypogastric blocks for his MSK and palliative interventions.


Ep.199: Advanced Minimally Invasive Pain Interventions with Dr. Prologo

Ep. 68: RF Ablation for Bone Metastases with Dr. Levy and Dr. Bagla

Disclaimer: The Materials available on are for informational and educational purposes only and are not a substitute for the professional judgment of a healthcare professional in diagnosing and treating patients. The opinions expressed by participants of the BackTable Podcast belong solely to the participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views of BackTable.

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