CIRSE Annual Congress
SubmitAward of Excellence and Innovation in IR

Award of Excellence and Innovation in IR

The Award of Excellence and Innovation in Interventional Radiology, sponsored by the Rolf W. Günther Foundation for Radiological Sciences, is awarded on a yearly basis for outstanding contributions to the advancement of interventional radiology. Since its establishment in 2012, this distinction has been granted to some of the most innovative physicians in the field. The recipient of the award will receive a certificate of merit as well as a cash prize of €6,000.

We have a winner! Congratulations!

This year, the honour went to Dr. Yuji Okuno for his pioneering work on the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal inflammation and pain. Dr. Okuno recieved the award during CIRSE 2023 in Copenhagen.

Yuji Okuno
Yuji Okuno
2023 Winner of the Award of Excellence and Innovation in IR

The innovation

Dr. Okuno’s work gained widespread attention with his seminal study, published in 2014 in CVIR, which examined the short-term clinical outcomes of transarterial embolization (TAE) for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, laying the foundation for a new field of IR treatments. In his study, fourteen patients with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis underwent transarterial embolization using imipenem/cilastatin and microspheres. The results were extraordinary, as these patients experienced significant improvements in pain and symptom scores at both the 1-month and 4-month follow-ups and were maintained at the mean final follow-up of 12 months. Furthermore, the reported side effects were mild. Dr. Okuno’s report subsequently became the cornerstone for genicular artery embolization (GAE) studies, conducted by numerous authors in the following years.

Since then, follow-up studies from various regions across Europe, North and South America and Asia have consistently reported the safety and effectiveness of transarterial embolization for the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal inflammation and pain.

Through a series of further studies, Dr. Okuno has demonstrated the effectiveness of embolization not only for knee osteoarthritis, but also for chronic arthritis, encompassing sports injuries, frozen shoulder syndrome, and chronic lower back pain. His research has fundamentally changed previous beliefs by highlighting the efficacy of embolization, which traditionally had only been employed to treat tumours and bleeding, for combating chronic inflammation and pain. Subsequent animal studies have since confirmed the mechanism behind this treatment, revealing a reduction in blood vessels stimulated by inflammation and a decrease in inflammatory cell infiltration.

Dr. Yuji Okuno’s work has paved the way for a novel concept in interventional radiology. With thousands of patients already benefiting from this minimally invasive treatment, his research has helped countless people and holds immense promise for the future.

About the winner

Dr. Yuji Okuno is an interventional radiologist, founder and Chief Director of the Okuno Clinic in Tokyo, Japan. After his training in radiology, he was engaged in basic and clinical research for several years. His initial research focus at the Keio University/Tokyo was vascular biology and basic research in pathological angiogenesis. From early on in his career as an interventional radiologist, he had a strong interest in the question of whether embolization can provide a new approach to effectively reduce chronic inflammation and alleviate pain. He later successfully introduced transarterial embolization for the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal disorders, such as knee osteoarthritis (OA) and frozen shoulder. Dr. Okuno has authored and co-authored 18 peer-reviewed publications related to embolization for musculoskeletal disorders, in particular knee OA with superselective GAE. He reported the safety and efficacy of this innovative technique resulting in significant and sustained pain relief in clinical studies, which have since been confirmed by other researchers internationally.

Past winners

2023Dr. Yuji Okuno for his pioneering work on the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal inflammation and pain.
2022William T. Kuo for his work on the Excimer laser-assisted removal of embedded IVC filters.
2021Ulrich Speck and Bruno Scheller for their work on using drug-coated balloons (DCB) for the local treatment of intimal hyperplasia.
2020Frédéric Deschamps for his work on percutaneous fixation by internal cemented-screw in bone cancer patients
2019Boris Guiu and Mathieu T. Boulin for their work on Idarubicin as Anticancer Agent for Transarterial Chemoembolisation (TACE) of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)
2018M. Itkin for his development of new imaging and intervention techniques of the lymphatic system
2017Hans Henkes for his pioneering development of cerebral stent thrombectomy in the management of acute ischemic stroke
2017MRCLEAN trialists for their groundbreaking trial on endovascular treatment for acute ischemic stroke
2016F. Carnevale for his pioneering work on prostate embolisation
2015P. Bize, G. Borchard, A. Denys, K. Fuchs and O. Jordan for their research on drug-eluting beads loaded with anti-angiogenic agents for chemoembolisation
2014M.G.E.H. Lam, J.F.W. Nijsen and M.A.A.J. van den Bosch for their development of the Holmium-166 microspheres and assessing safety and maximum tolerated radiation dose
2013S. Lerouge and G. Soulez for their development of an embolizing sclerosing hydrogel for the treatment of endoleaks, vascular malformations and venous disease
2012A. Bolia and J.A. Reekers for their development and promotion of subintimal angioplasty

CIRSE would like to warmly thank the R.W. Günther Foundation for funding the award.