Providence leading the way in cardiac care techniques

February 25, 2012
Radial Artery Catheterization
Providence leading the way in southern Oregon

Providence Medford Medical Center is one of approximately 10 percent of hospitals in the United States routinely offering an advanced cardiac catheterization procedure known as radial artery catheterization.
When cardiac catheterization was first introduced in the 1950s, it was a revolutionary procedure. By using a thin tube threaded through an artery in the groin, doctors have been able to detect and clear blockages in the hearts of more than one million Americans a year. Today, radial catheterization provides an innovative approach to this procedure by inserting the catheter through the radial artery in the wrist.
Early on, the femoral artery was a logical choice because its large size could accommodate various sizes of catheters, balloons and stents. However, modern equipment has become smaller and easier to maneuver, which now makes radial access possible – and successful – for most catheter-based procedures.
Wrist access is a more challenging procedure for interventional cardiologists, requiring significant training, increased precision and state-of-the-art technology. However, those trained in radial catheterization, including Christopher Cannon, M.D., Melike Arslan, M.D., and James Cook, M.D., of Providence Medical Group-Cardiology, consider it the top choice for most of their patients.
“Radial catheterization yields significant benefits for the patient,” Dr. Cannon explains, “including faster recovery, fewer complications from bleeding, and reduced stress and discomfort for the patient.”
The healing process for femoral artery catheterization is lengthier and lends itself to complications. Patients must lie flat on their backs while pressure is applied to the procedure site for up to six hours to ensure that the wound closes. Remaining still in this position can be painful for patients who are elderly or have hip or back pain. While rare, severe bleeding and complications, including internal bleeding not immediately visible, can result if a patient moves too soon.
Because the radial artery is smaller and located just under the skin, bleeding from the wound site is easier to observe and control. A wristwatch-type band applies pressure to the wrist and enables patients to get up and move almost immediately, reducing recovery time and discomfort.
While not appropriate for all patients, the radial approach is an option for most patients. The most important determining factor is good blood supply to the hands. A simple test shows if both the radial and ulnar arteries are functioning well, which is critical. In the rare instance of radial artery blockage, the ulnar artery must be
able to supply sufficient blood to the entire hand.
Certain complex procedures requiring larger catheters may be best done using a femoral approach.
By utilizing both the innovative radial approach and the traditional femoral technique for catheterization, Providence Medical Group-Cardiology provides advanced care for cardiac patients – from diagnosing conditions to delivering medicine, clearing blockages and positioning stents.