Traditional cardiac catheterization procedures are done by a femoral approach, in which a physician accesses the heart through the femoral artery in the groin to diagnose or treat heart problems. Duke Regional now offers a different approach through the radial artery in the wrist.
Entering through the wrist decreases patients’ risk of bleeding after the procedure and can be more comfortable. After treatment with the femoral approach patients have to lay flat on their back for hours while pressure is applied to the site to reduce blood loss. With the radial approach, patients wear a compression cuff to apply pressure, and they are able to sit up, eat and move while they are recovering.
While most patients can have a radial procedure, some with very small or blocked radial arteries and patients on dialysis may be better treated from a traditional femoral artery approach. Before starting the procedure, the physician always checks to make sure there is good blood supply to the patient’s hand through both the radial and the ulnar artery. If there isn’t, the physician will not use this approach.
If you need a cardiac catheterization your physician will discuss your options and decide the best method for your particular case. Not all physicians are trained in the radial method. At Duke Regional, J. Matthew Brennan, MD has been using this method since 2007 and uses it on 90 percent of his patients. Other heart specialists are currently undergoing training.
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