Evaluating the Heart, Through the Wrist
Sentara Heart and Vascular Center cardiologists are entering the body for heart catheterizations at an unusual place – the wrist. The technique is called radial artery access and it offers patients some unique advantages Over a million cardiac catheterizations are performed each year in the United States by diagnostic and interventional cardiologists who specialize in evaluating and treating heart conditions. Traditionally this procedure begins at the upper leg area where a thin plastic tube (catheter) is inserted into the femoral artery to provide a direct route to the heart. A newer technique takes a different route to the heart, a specially trained cardiologist begins the procedure at an artery in the wrist using the radial artery. This procedure is quickly becoming the preferred procedure for all patients and is especially helpful for people who are obese or those with poor leg circulation. Major BenefitsA more comfortable, shorter recovery Reduced risk of bleeding Avoiding an overnight hospital stay. Recovery Is Easier When the radial (wrist) access is used for cardiac catheterization, patients are able to sit up in a comfortable chair right after the procedure and even walk around. A clear, balloon-type wristband applies pressure to seal the artery and prevent bleeding. Diagnostic catheterization patients are able to go home just a few hours following the procedure. In comparison, after a cardiac catheterization using the femoral (leg) approach, patients must lie flat on their backs for several hours with pressure applied to the leg to prevent bleeding. An overnight hospital stay may also be required. The radial access technique has been used in other countries since the early 1990s, but is just now becoming more widely available in the U.S.
For information on physicians performing this procedure at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, call 1-800-SENTARA (1-800-736-8272).