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Transradial Cardiac Catheterization

Reaching Your Heart through Your Wrist

Transradial Cardiac Catheterization is an alternative to the traditional procedure — in which doctors insert a catheter through the femoral artery located in the groin or brachial artery located in the upper arm — for a variety of diagnoses and treatments.

With Transradial Cardiac Catheterization, a small artery in the wrist (the radial artery) is accessed and the catheter is inserted at that point, and then threaded to the heart and its chambers.

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Potential Benefits of Transradial Approach

Patients can typically sit up immediately after the procedure and leave the same day, while patients who have the femoral (thigh) approach must lie in bed for four hours or more to prevent bleeding from the femoral artery and may need to stay at the hospital overnight. The Transradial approach appears to be more comfortable for patients who have difficult lying down for several hours (including those with chronic back pain and obesity). It almost completely eliminates the risk for bleeding complications.

Additional potential benefits:

• Easier access to the circulation
• Less risk of trauma to adjacent nerves and blood vessels — resulting in less pain

What to Expect With Transradial Cardiac Catheterization


The patient remains awake (under moderate sedation) during the procedure, so they can follow the cardiologist's instructions. Once the area is numb from local anesthetic, a sheath will be placed in the arm that enables the cardiologist to insert the catheter into the radial artery in the wrist and up to the entrance of the coronary artery. A contrast dye will be injected through the catheter to help the cardiologist see the coronary arteries on the X-ray.

A camera will move around the body to obtain images. The last image will require a larger volume of contrast dye to give the cardiologist a clear picture of blood flow and how well the heart muscle pumps. There may feel a warm flush throughout the body, but the sensation will disappear in a few seconds. After the procedure, results will be given to the patient.


Not for Everyone

Patients, who have advanced kidney disease, previously had coronary artery bypass surgery or have complex cases that require larger catheters may be better suited to the femoral approach.