Catheterization - Transradial
Cardiologists perform cardiac catheterizations (caths) to evaluate blood flow to the heart and the heart's pumping ability. Caths can also be used for angioplasty to open blocked arteries and to place stents to keep arteries open.
To perform a cath, a cardiologist inserts a thin tube into an artery and then feeds the tube through the body's circulatory system to reach the heart. An incision is made in either the groin to access the femoral artery, or the wrist to access the radial artery. The latter procedure is called a transradial catheterization, and it offers significant benefits to patients. These include:
- Lower risk of bleeding at the incision site
- Less pain - Femoral cath patients must endure up to eight hours of painful, manual compression at the incision site to avoid bleeding. Transradial cath patients wear a simple wrist compression device.
- Patient can move almost immediately after the procedure - A femoral procedure requires patients to lie flat for hours. Transradial patients do not have to lie flat and can move around, walk to the bathroom, etc. soon after the procedure.
Today, only approximately 5 percent of U.S. cardiologists use the transradial technique, but that percentage is increasing. Dr. Tift Mann, a cardiologist with Wake Heart & Vascular Associates, is one of the first cardiologists in the nation to use the technique. He and his colleague, Dr. Lee Jobe, are considered national authorities on the procedure.
Are you a candidate for transradial catheterization?
Most cath patients qualify for a transradial procedure. One test used to determine if a patient is a candidate for a transradial cath is called an Allen's test. The cardiologist compresses or occludes the ulnar artery for a few minutes and then compares the color of the patient's two hands. The cardiologist then compresses the patient's radial artery for a few minutes and does the comparison again. The test shows the doctor how well the blood circulates through the ulnar and radial arteries to help ensure they are healthy and clear for the procedure.