Moon Township, PA, (September 22, 2011)
– 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, through transfemoral access. However, the next time a patient at Heritage Valley Heart & Vascular Center has a cardiac catheterization, he or she may be surprised to find that the pathway to the heart starts at the wrist, a transradial access point. Interventional cardiologists at the Heritage Valley Heart & Vascular Center have embraced the transradial approach as a way to reduce the risk of complications, improve patient outcomes and 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, the 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, such as angioplasty, to open up the blocked artery.
“We have been expanding our use of the transradial access for both diagnostic and interventional procedures to ensure better patient outcomes and comfort,” said Jeff Lins, M.D., Director, Heritage Valley Heart & Vascular Center. “As a general rule, patients and referring physicians have preferred this method as it enables the patients to be mobile much faster and with less post-procedure pain.”
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. Post procedure, patients receiving transfemoral access are generally required to lie still for four-to-six hours while pressure is applied to the access area to ensure there is no further bleeding before the patient can get up and walk around.
For certain types of patients, including obese patients, women, the elderly, and patients with peripheral vascular disease, transradial access provides documented reductions in bleeding complications, including hematomas (swelling), less back pain and quicker recovery. In fact, patients treated with transradial access are able to sit up and walk around almost immediately after the procedure. As a result, these patients are more likely to be discharged faster than those treated with transfemoral access.
“It’s better and more convenient for patients,” added Dr. Lins. “A recent RIVAL trial of more than 7,000 patients at centers around the world indicated that the primary outcomes of the transradial access option are equal to that of the traditional transfemoral approach.”
In this past year, there has been a growing interest among medical professional in the United States to learn the transradial technique as a way to reduce bleeding complications, procedure costs, shorten hospital stays and improve patient satisfaction.
“Two and half years ago when we started the transradial access, we only were utilizing this procedure in 2%of our cases. Today, more than 60% of our cases are being done this way and I personally use the transradial procedure on 90% of my patients,” continued Dr. Lins. “For some procedures, like routine selective stents, the wrist option allows for same day discharge for some patients. As changes in healthcare reform take shape, such as measuring better door-to-balloon time, this puts us way ahead of the curve.”
Located in eight locations around Southwestern Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, Heritage Valley’s Heart & Vascular Center offers comprehensive cardiac care including diagnostic and interventional cardiology, cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, electrophysiology, VeinCare, vascular surgery, cardiac computed tomography (CT) and cardiac rehabilitation services.