Transradial Catheterization

Safer through the wrist

Get one of the most common cardiac procedures in the U.S. and you may have to lie still for six hours to prevent bleeding. But not at Aurora BayCare, where we lead the Midwest in a safer option.

#1 in Midwest in Radial Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is used to perform angiograms to detect and open blocked arteries.  The process involves inserting a tiny plastic tube into an artery and advancing that tube to the heart.

At Aurora BayCare, we do more than half our cardiac catheterizations by entering through the patient’s wrist. This method significantly reduces the risk of complications and is far more comfortable than traditional methods. 

The procedure, known as transradial catheterization (or radial cath) is used widely in Europe, but few U.S. hospitals offer it.  Nationally, less than 50% of cardiac catheterizations are performed via radial cath.  At Aurora BayCare, our radial catheterization rate is 75%.

Wrist Route is Safer

Patients receiving a radial cath can sit up and walk right away after the procedure.  By contrast, patients receiving a traditional catheterization (which enters through a vein deep in the groin) must lie perfectly still for four to six hours until the chance of bleeding has subsided.  They’re also more likely to experience back pain, urinary retention and nerve damage.

Advantages of radial catheterization:

  • Reduced rate of complications
  • Reduced mortality rates
  • More comfortable for patients
  • Patients can move around within minutes after treatment
  • Patients can return to normal activity, even exercise, within days
  • Allows same-day discharge (when appropriate)
  • Safer for patients in an acute heart attack due to lower risk of critical blood loss

Ninety-seven percent of patients who have had procedures performed from both the arm and the leg prefer the wrist for their next procedure.

What would you say is the number-one reason for doing radial caths today?

“Radial catheterization offers lower bleeding and infection rates and quicker hospital discharges, which reduces cost and provides greater comfort to the patient.” – Dr. Scott Weslow, Director Cardiac Cath Lab

Q&A for Transradial Catheterization

Any drawbacks to radial caths?

Just a few. In some patients, the radial artery in the wrist may be too small for certain procedures, and in some patients with previous bypass surgery, groin is a better approach.

Why don’t more hospitals offer it?

In the past, training programs did not teach radial catheterization, so many physicians who trained years ago did not develop this skill.

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