The benefits of a radial catheterization

Monday, October 7, 2013

By: Betsy Hansen

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Heart catheterizations can treat an array of heart conditions. With cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death in the United States, it is no surprise more than 1.1 million heart catheterizations occur each year. During this procedure, a physician uses a flexible tube to direct through a patient's artery to diagnose and treat coronary artery disease. There are two types of catheterizations: femoral, or through an artery located in the groin, and radial, through an artery located in the wrist.


Approximately 55 percent of Aurora BayCare Medical Center's cases are radial caths, compared to the 12 percent nationwide statistic. "We were kind of a voice in the wilderness for 10-15 years. All of a sudden, about five years ago, the U.S. began to get it. It is something in which everyone wins," said David Mathias, MD, a BayCare Clinic interventional cardiologist.


With such a staggering number of radial caths being performed at Aurora BayCare compared to nationally, there are a few reasons why all of our interventional cardiologists offer this procedure.


The benefits of a radial catheterization


Reduce vascular complications

Dr. Mathias has been performing radial caths for 15 years, and now performs approximately 90-95 percent of his catheterizations through the wrist, instead of the groin. Bleeding events were 1.1 percent for a radial cath, compared to a 2.4 percent for femoral caths. After the radial cath procedure, the patient's wrist is dressed with a pressurized wristband to prevent bleeding. Within a few hours, the wristband is removed.


Faster recovery

A radial cath increases the patient's ability to become mobile after the procedure at a faster rate. Patients are able to drive the next day after a radial cath, compared to at least three days after a femoral cath. Additionally, patients who go through a femoral catheterization must lie nearly perfectly still for at least six hours to minimize the chance of a serious bleeding complication. If there was a bleeding incident, leg mobility could be permanently reduced. Radial cath patients are able to sit up immediately after the procedure. With both approaches, patients should follow their doctor's advice on when to return to work. However, the radial cath approach usually allows patients back to work a few days sooner.


Cost effective

In addition to the radial cath procedure being less expensive, the average hospital stay at Aurora BayCare Medical Center is a half day shorter. "Doing radial catheterizations may be a little thing but it makes a huge difference," said Dr. Mathias. "If you look at outcomes and costs it has been incredibly beneficial to us and to our patients."


While the benefits are apparent, in some cases it is preferred to do a catheterization through the groin. An interventional cardiologist will discuss this and make the best decision with you. Learn more about our cardiology department here.

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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.