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As a general rule, people undergoing heart catheterizations in the United States do so with the procedure starting at the femoral artery found in the groin. However, the next time a patient at Sharp Memorial Hospital or Sharp Grossmont Hospital has a cardiac catheterization, he or she may be surprised to find that the pathway to the heart starts at the wrist (transradial access) and not the groin (transfemoral access). Interventional cardiologists at Sharp HealthCare are embracing the transradial approach as a way to reduce the risk of complications, improve patient outcomes and to significantly improve the overall patient experience.
The transradial approach uses the wrist to gain access to arteries that lead to the patient's heart. Once access to the artery is made, an interventional cardiologist is able to perform either a diagnostic procedure, which determines if and where there are blockages that impede the flow of blood to the heart muscle, or an interventional procedure (angioplasty) to open up the blocked artery.
"We have been expanding our use of wrist access for both diagnostic and interventional procedures to ensure better patient outcomes and comfort," said Dr. Payam Mehranpour, a Sharp-affiliated interventional cardiologist who has performed the transradial approach at Sharp Grossmont for nearly a year. "As a general rule, patients prefer this procedure as it enables them to be mobile much faster and with less discomfort."
Each year, more than a million cardiac catheterizations are performed in the United States, with most starting with a puncture to the femoral artery in the groin. While this is the most common approach, the entry point is sometimes difficult to access and has a greater associated risk of bleeding complications, especially in women, post-procedure pain and a slower recovery period. Patients receiving groin access are generally required to lie still for four-to-six hours while pressure is applied to the area to prevent further bleeding before the patient can get up and walk around.
"For certain types of patients, including obese patients, women and the elderly, and patients with peripheral vascular disease, wrist access provides documented reductions in bleeding complications, including less swelling and back pain and a quicker recovery. Remarkably, most patients treated with wrist access are able to sit up and walk around almost immediately after the procedure," said Dr. Raghava Gollapudi, an interventional cardiologist affiliated with Sharp Memorial Hospital.
In this past year, there has been a growing interest among medical professionals in the United States to learn the wrist technique as a way to reduce bleeding complications, procedure costs, shorten hospital stays and improve patient satisfaction.
For More Information
For more information about heart and vascular care at Sharp or to find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego cardiologist or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about heart and vascular care, visit Cardiovascular Diseases in Adult Health or read the Heart and Cardiovascular News archive.