Reaching Your Heart Through Your Wrist

The George Washington University Hospital is one of a few local centers offering an innovative procedure, that may be more comfortable for patients, called transradial cardiac catheterization. Used widely in Europe, Canada and Asia, transradial cardiac catheterization allows an interventional cardiologist to access a patient's heart through the inside of the patient's wrist.

How is the Transradial Approach Different?

During a cardiac catheterization, physicians typically insert the catheter in the large femoral artery in the patient's thigh. In the transradial approach, interventional cardiologists use a smaller artery, called the radial artery, in the patient's wrist. If a significant blockage is found, physicians can also perform an angioplasty using radial access.

Potential Benefits of the Transradial Approach

Patients who have procedure using the transradial (wrist) approach 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 must usually 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.

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.

One Patient's Experience

William Sanford, 65, was at work when he was overcome with dizziness and tightness in his chest. Knowing something was wrong, he had his colleague call 9-1-1.

William had spent nearly 10 years working as a technician in an area cardiac catheterization lab, where he'd assisted with thousands of femoral procedures. So when William was told by the doctors at GW Hospital that he needed a cardiac catheterization to determine the cause of his chest pain he "was dreading having to lie still for a long time" afterwards. He was surprised to find the doctor would go through his wrist and that he'd be able to sit up immediately following the procedure. Recalling the catheterization, William said it was a "piece of cake" and that he only felt some pressure on his wrist.

GW Hospital In The News 

This Washington Post article features another successful transradial cardiac catheterization at GW Hospital.

Ready to Get Started?

To schedule an appointment, please call our referral service at 888-4GW-DOCS.