A Better Approach for Cardiac Catheterization
Traditionally done using a catheter that is inserted into the groin and fed through the artery to the heart, cardiac catheterizations are used to diagnose and treat heart conditions. While major complications are rare, patients must remain on their back for several hours after the catheterization to prevent bleeding and to allow the artery to heal. A different approach called radial catheterization which is done through the wrist, offers patients more comfort and safety.
There have been many studies showing the benefit of through the wrist cardiac catheterization, explains Shalin Mehta, M.D., cardiologist. This option offers lower risk of bleeding complications, shorter hospital stays, faster recovery time and greater patient satisfaction.
The radial artery is narrower, smaller and closer to the surface of the skin than the femoral artery. Because the artery is more accessible, the procedure does not require as deep of an incision and decreases the risk of internal bleeding. External bleeding can be easily compressed, Dr. Mehta says. We use a band-like device on the wrist to stop the bleeding, as opposed to needing someone to apply pressure to the groin area after a catheterization through the femoral artery.
While there are a number of advantages, there also are limitations, Dr. Mehta says. The radial approach may not be the best option for all patients, he says. If a patient does not have good circulation in the arm or wrist, for example, we would use the femoral artery. The radial approach also is technically more difficult to perform.
The radial cardiac catheterization may be the better approach, but it is important to discuss all options with your cardiologist to determine the best, safest method for you and your body.
Looking into your Heart - Catheterization
Shalin Mehta, M.D.
Florida Heart Associates
1550 Barkley Circle
Fort Myers, FL 33907