During cardiac procedures involving cardiac catheterization
, doctors thread a long, thin tube (called a catheter) through an artery or vein in the leg or arm and into the heart. This gives the doctor access to the arteries in the heart. Typically the catheter is threading through the femoral artery (in the groin). While this is the most common access point, it can present problems, such as bleeding at the puncture site and nerve damage. Also, following the procedure, patients must lie very still for several hours to prevent bleeding.
Some doctors, including some at Mercy, are now using what is known as Radial Artery Access. This process involves inserting the catheter into the patient's radial artery, which is in the wrist. This has several benefits:
It is much easier to apply pressure and stop the bleeding in the wrist than the groin
For most patients, radial access causes much less discomfort than femoral access
Radial access allows patients to get out of bed and move around immediately following their procedure
Who is a good candidate for radial artery access? Radial artery access is not available to all patients or for all procedures. To be considered a candidate, patients must:
What can I expect? During a radial artery access procedure, patients can expect:
An IV will be inserted and a mild sedative will be used to keep to you relaxed during the procedure
A local anesthetic will be placed near the wrist to numb the area where the catheter will be inserted
Following the procedure the IV and catheter will be removed and the wrist will be bandaged
Following a radial artery access procedure, many patients are able to be discharged from the hospital in the same day, unlike a traditional femoral artery access procedure.
If you are in need of a cardiac catheterization procedure, talk to your doctor to find out if you may be a candidate for a radial artery access procedure.