Approach to the Heart- Transradial Rules: November 26, 2013

It’s a more cutting edge approach to the heart- used in procedures to detect a blockage in the artery or place a stent. For years doctors followed a standard course of action.

“Diagnostic cardiac catheterization traditionally has been done through the femoral artery which is an artery in your groin, where we actually go up and look at the heart arteries,” says Dr. Robert Cross, cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

In the past few years a new path emerged and is gaining traction. Studies show the transradial approach now makes up 20% of these interventional procedures.

“The trend that has been progressing in Europe and now to the United States is to use a radial access which is actually an artery in the arm,” says Dr. Cross.

The professional society, which oversees cardiovascular angiography and interventions, felt it was time to establish standards of best practices for the wrist approach. It focuses on avoiding artery occlusion, minimizing radiation and transitioning to wrist access during a common form of heart attack.

Going through the wrist is associated with reduced complications and patients report higher satisfaction. The long-established groin approach made recovery more difficult, the entry point is deeper and patients are forced to lie still for hours afterward.

“The reason this is nice is it actually comfortable for the patient. They’re able to get up and sit in a chair as soon as the procedure is done, there’s less bleeding complications; there’s less morbidity/mortality,” says Dr. Cross.

Bettering the patient experience, with a safe, effective method is driving more doctors to the wrist.