The radial approach to cardiac catheterization—entering through an artery in the patient’s wrist, rather than the femoral artery in the groin area—offers many advantages, according to Sandra A. Weiss, M.D., an interventional cardiologist at the Christiana Care Center for Heart & Vascular Health.
“A radial approach is safer, with less bleeding or risk of vascular complications,” Dr. Weiss says. Immediately after the procedure, patients can walk and move around, resulting in less need for nursing care. “The patient needs only to wear a little inflatable bracelet to cover the cath insertion site for one to three hours. People are a often pleasantly surprised that we are using this approach.”
Dr. Weiss performs catheterizations through the radial artery in 80–85 percent of her cases, while intervential procedures around the country are just the reverse, entering through the wrist in about 15 percent of the time, she says. There are reasons why the radial approach to catheterization is not an option and the femoral artery is preferred, Dr. Weiss says. Such exceptions include:
- A procedure calling for larger gauge catheter must still use groin.
- Patients who have had bypass surgery, or a heart attack.
- Many elderly patients.