Transradial Catherization

Transradial Cardiac Catheterization

Q&A with Dr. Anuj Gupta, cardiologist and director of Peripheral Vascular Interventions at the University of Maryland Medical Center

What is cardiac catheterization, and when is it used?

In general, cardiac catheterization is done to get information about the heart muscle and its blood supply or to provide treatments such as intracoronary stents in certain types of heart conditions. It may also be used to determine the need for heart surgery.

Your doctor may perform cardiac catheterization to

In addition to its use as a diagnostic tool, it can also be used as an interventional procedure to treat heart attacks, to open blocked arteries, and repair stenotic (narrowed) heart valves.

In the United States, a majority of cardiac catheterizations (90-95%) are performed through the femoral artery, which is accessed through the groin. Although generally considered safe, this approach presents a slightly higher risk of bleeding compared to radial artery catheterization.

What is transradial cardiac catheterization?

Transradial cardiac catheterization offers a less invasive, lower-risk option because the procedure is performed through the wrist rather than the groin. This allows for a quicker recovery time and a shorter hospital stay. Immediately after the procedure, patients should be able to sit up, eat, and walk. In contrast, after a traditional cardiac catheterization, patients must lie flat for two to six hours, in order to ensure that bleeding will not occur from the site.

UMMC is one of only a handful of hospitals in Maryland to offer transradial cardiac catheterization.

How is the procedure performed?

A determination is made to confirm that the patient is eligible and safe for radial artery catheterization. The patient is prepped, and sedated. The wrist area is anesthetized and accessed with a small needle. Catheters are then inserted and advanced to the heart arteries. The rest of the procedure is identical as if it were performed from the traditional approach. The catheter is then inserted through the wrist (radial artery) and is threaded through to the heart and its chambers. A wristband is used to compress the artery.

What are the benefits/advantages of transradial versus traditional cardiac catheterization?

  • Reduced risk of bleeding and damage to blood vessels
  • Patient can sit up and eat immediately after procedure. (With standard approach patients must lie flat for two to six hours).
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Quicker recovery time
  • More comfortable post-procedure as there is no post-procedure bedrest requirement

Who is eligible for transradial cardiac catheterization?

Despite the advantages to this approach, the procedure may not be appropriate for:

  • Patients whose other hand artery (the ulnar artery) is not vigorous enough to independently supply the hand
  • Patients who are on dialysis and have their dialysis access from the arm

We evaluate each patient's case carefully to determine the best type of procedure to perform.

We encourage patients to ask our team about this form of diagnostic testing to see if it is appropriate for them.

Why come to the University of Maryland Medical Center?

UMMC is one of the few hospitals in Maryland to offer transradial cardiac catheterization, and our physicians have been perfecting this procedure for over two years. Our physicians are involved in training new physicians and already accredited interventional cardiologists in this technique.

Patients at the University of Maryland Medical Center are cared for by a multi-disciplinary team of interventional cardiologists and surgeons who work together to formulate individualized treatment plans based on each patient's specific needs and disease stage.

Please call if you would like to make an appointment or talk to someone about our services. Patients dial 1-866-408-6885, physicians dial 410-328-6622 or 1-800-318-1019.

This page was last updated: September 15, 2014

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