Physicians are now providing an innovative cardiac catheterization technique that reduces recovery time and bleeding, and may provide a less stressful option for some patients needing the procedure. Called radial artery access, the procedure uses arteries in the wrist for inserting the catheter into the heart.
In standard cardiac catheterization procedures, patients must lie flat for hours while a needle and thin catheter are introduced into the artery in their groin. The catheter is then threaded up through the body into the vessels of the heart. After the procedure, patients must remain horizontal and immobile for hours, and may have some pain and bruising at the puncture site for several days.
At Cooper, skilled practitioners offer appropriate candidates the option of having their cardiac catheterization performed with access through the wrist, via the radial artery, eliminating the need for lying flat and motionless for long periods.
“There are multiple benefits for the patient in addition to lifting the restriction on remaining flat and immobile,” said cardiologist Elias A. Iliadis, M.D., Medical Director of Noninvasive Vascular Intervention, at the Cooper Heart Institute.
“There is a lower risk of bleeding with the wrist access, as only a small bandage at the wrist is required post-procedure. Patients can move about immediately after the catheterization, with no required bed rest. Many patients actually return to driving and work the following day,” Dr. Iliadis said.
Radial artery access requires a high level of practitioner skill. Less than 5 percent of cardiac catheterizations are performed with a wrist access nationwide. At Cooper, however, the rate is nearly three times the national average.
“I believe we have a higher rate of radial/wrist access because of the depth of expertise and experience of Cooper cardiologists,” Dr. Iliadis said.
If you would like to find out more about radial artery access or would like to make an appointment with a Cooper cardiologist, call our Physician Referral Service at 1.800.826.6737.