Catheterization techniques are used for cardiac imaging, diagnosis and treatment, reducing the need for surgery. To perform endovascular procedures with limited risk of complications, interventional cardiologists at Iowa Methodist Medical Center now may access a patient's arterial system through the wrist.
The dominant approach to cardiac catheterization - whether for angiogram, angioplasty or stent procedures - has been to enter the system through the femoral artery in the groin. Although this approach allows great ease of access and few technical difficulties for cardiologists, the recovery process can be more difficult for patients.
"In Europe, a large portion of catheterizations are performed radially," says Nasser Khan, M.D., FACC, FSCAI, interventional cardiologist at The Iowa Clinic, in practice at Iowa Methodist Medical Center. Dr. Khan is one of the cardiologists using the newer procedure. "I prefer radial catheterization because the recovery process significantly improves patient comfort."
Recovery from radial procedures only requires a band to be placed where the catheter entered the wrist. Patients can move around and access restrooms immediately after the procedure, and are usually able to leave the hospital around three hours after diagnostic catheterization. Trans-femoral catheterization can require in-hospital recovery times of up to seven hours.
Radial catheterization procedures are as effective as other approaches in treating arterial disease. A patient who is taking anticoagulation and platelet-inhibiting medications does not have added risk factors for these radial procedures, as major blood loss is almost nonexistent.
"Although the radial catheterization procedures require high technical skill, I feel the results are better for my patients," says Dr. Khan.
Source: Adapted from MD News, May/June 2012, Central Iowa edition