In the last six years interventional cardiologists have been dramatically increasing their use of a new technique to send catheters to the heart. Instead of puncturing a hole in the groin and snaking a catheter to the heart through the leg, they are now accessing the heart through the much-smaller radial artery in the wrist.
Interventional cardiologists hope that the new, more modest approach will reduce bleeding and get patients back on the road to recovery that much faster.
Traditionally, cardiac catheterization is performed in the large femoral artery, but this procedure can be very difficult for some patients according to Dr. Leslie Webb, an interventional cardiologist with Cardiovascular Specialists at Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News. “When we do a cath in the femoral artery, the patient has to lie flat for anywhere between two and eight hours,” she says. “That can be torture for patients with back pain.” Recovery is also much quicker: radial artery patients return to normal activity after two days while femoral artery cath patients typically can’t work, drive or lift for three or more days.
Observational data shows fewer bleeding complications (2.67% versus 6.08%) and vascular complications (0.16% versus 0.45%) in radial access when compared with the femoral access group. These differences remained significant after adjusting for differences between the groups.
Radial access is used less often in certain high-risk groups, including elderly patients 75 years of age or greater, women, and patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS). But researchers feel that these high-risk groups may derive the greatest benefit from radial access in terms of absolute risk reduction in bleeding and vascular complications.
Find an interventional cardiologist that performs this procedure at the Bon Secours Heart and Vascular Institute or by calling (757) 889-CARE.