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Monday, June 24, 2013 - It’s all in the wrist ─ A newer cardiac catheterization option

It’s all in the wrist ─ A newer cardiac catheterization option

By Aaron Van Hise, D.O.

Cardiologists perform more than a million cardiac (heart) catheterizations in the U.S. every year. This procedure enables the cardiologist to diagnose certain heart conditions by inserting a long, thin tube (catheter) into an artery or vein and advancing it into the chambers of the heart or coronary arteries. An angiogram (picture of the arteries) is then performed to identify blockages that cause chest pain or shortness of breath, among other symptoms. These arteries provide critical blood supply to the heart muscle. Until recently, cardiologists catheterized the femoral artery in the groin to use as the gateway to the heart. Patients who have undergone conventional cardiac catheterization have traditionally been required to lie on their backs (without moving) for as long as four hours to minimize possible complications from the procedure, although rare.

Using the wrist as a gateway to the heart

A newer and less invasive catheterization procedure, performed through an artery in the wrist (radial-access cardiac catheterization), enables the doctor to accomplish the same task while making patient recovery significantly quicker, with less pain and fewer complications. By using the radial artery located in the arm, doctors can bypass the need to invade the femoral artery in the groin, which provides blood flow to the legs. The majority of patients are more comfortable, as radial artery catheterization allows them to sit up immediately after the procedure and even drive within 24 hours. Additionally, radial artery catheterization avoids the need to lie flat for the four hours needed with femoral artery catheterization. Even better, it is generally performed on an outpatient basis ─ no hospitalization required.

A specialty procedure offered in select hospitals

Wrist catheterization was originally developed only for patients for whom a groin approach was challenging, such as obese patients or those with peripheral artery disease (blocked arteries in the legs). But not every cardiologist has specialized training to perform a wrist catheterization nor does every hospital offer it. Keep in mind, not every patient is a candidate for wrist catheterization ─ patients with prior coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG), poor arm circulation or prior injury to the arm may not be suitable for this procedure. But if your cardiologist determines you are suitable, rest assured you will be facing less pain and a markedly faster recovery time.

CentraState Medical Center’s Cardiology Department offers radial/wrist artery catheterization, as well as the latest diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitation services for patients seeking heart protection and treatment services. The department has been providing wrist-access catheterization since 2011. If you would like to learn more about wrist catheterization and the full spectrum of heart care services provided at CentraState, call 866-CENTRA7 or visit centrastate.com.

            Dr. Van Hise is a board-certified interventional cardiologist on staff at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold. He can be reached at Garden State Heart Care in Manalapan by calling 732-851-4700.