Wrist approach speeds recovery after heart catheterizationPatients are up and moving much sooner after heart catheterizations thanks to a new technique offered at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth.
Patients are up and moving much sooner after heart catheterizations thanks to a new technique offered at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth. Rather than using the traditional approach of accessing the heart through an artery in the groin, some cardiologists are threading a catheter through a blood vessel in the patient’s wrist instead.
This common procedure is used to get a better look at a patient’s heart arteries, and in some cases, to insert a balloon or stent to open up a blockage.
“One advantage of using the ‘transradial’ or wrist approach is that it is a lot safer,” says Essentia Health Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Mudassar Ahmed. “There is much less bleeding and a much lower incidence of vascular complications.”
Dr. Ahmed also says patient convenience and comfort are improved with the wrist technique. With the groin approach, patients’ movements are very restricted right after the procedure, which isn’t necessary with the newer technique.
“They don’t have to lay flat for many hours afterwards,” he says. “If it wasn’t for the sedation, they would literally be able to walk out of the cath lab after the procedure. As soon as we are done, they are sitting up, they are able to communicate, walk around, use the bathroom, do whatever they need to do.”
Dr. Ahmed says most patients are candidates for this type of procedure. It’s gaining in popularity in the U.S., and is offered frequently in Europe. Doctors at Essentia Health’s Heart and Vascular Center have been providing this option to patients for more than a year.
“In the United States, it’s just catching on,” he says. “But the rest of the world has been doing angiography or heart catheterization using the transradial approach … for a number of years.”
Patients have positive feedback for Dr. Ahmed — especially those who have undergone the traditional approach in the past, he says.
“This is a good alternative that’s not only safer, but a lot more convenient,” Dr. Ahmed says. “We know our own patients who have had femoral angiograms in the past and now have radial angiograms, they say they would never go back to having it from the groin, it’s just so much better and more convenient from their standpoint.”