Why Your Wrist or Groin Is Involved in a Heart Procedure
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Why Your Wrist or Groin Is Involved in a Heart Procedure

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If you or someone you know experiences heart trouble, they will likely undergo a cardiac catheterization. This procedure allows doctors to find out why the heart trouble exists by injecting contrast dye through a catheter that is inserted through the artery and watching the flow of the contrast dye under special x-ray equipment. Once the trouble area has been identified, the doctor has the information they need to fix it. A heart catheterization can be done in two ways: through a small artery in your wrist (radial) or a large artery in your groin (femoral). Both options work, but at UnityPoint Health we have moved to a “radial first” access approach. Here’s why:

  • Fewer complications – Receiving a cardiac catheterization through the radial artery reduces the risk of bleeding at the artery site.
  • Less discomfort with faster recovery – The radial approach provides less discomfort to patients opposed to the femoral approach. Patients who receive a cardiac catheterization through the femoral artery for their heart trouble need to lay flat for four to six hours after the procedure. With the radial approach, patients can be up and moving quickly following their cardiac procedure, with minimal to no bedrest required.

Based on extensive discussions and data, and in line with national literature and guidelines, the decision to use the radial approach is expected to reduce the number of people readmitted to the hospital following a heart procedure, decrease the length of stay in the hospital, lower mortality rates and improve patient satisfaction. Currently, 40 percent of balloon angioplasties or coronary stenting are completed via radial access. 

UnityPoint Health – Finley Hospital’s Cardiac Cath Lab can help you get back to doing the things you love faster, because we’re dedicated to helping you and your loved ones go from getting well to living well. Please talk with your cardiologist about which procedure is best for you.