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Radial Artery Access Catheterization


Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento offers radial artery access in cardiac procedures involving cardiac catheterization. This provides several benefits including less discomfort and less time in the hospital.

What is Radial Artery Access Catheterization?

During cardiac procedures involving cardiac catheterization, doctors thread a long, thin tube (called a catheter) through an artery or vein in the leg or arm and into the heart. This gives the doctor access to the arteries in the heart.

Unlike traditional cardiac catheterization, radial artery access involves inserting the catheter into the patient's radial artery, which is in the wrist rather than the femoral artery in the patient's groin. This approach has several benefits:

  • It is much easier to apply pressure and stop the bleeding in the wrist than the groin
  • For most patients, radial access causes much less discomfort than femoral access
  • Radial access allows patients to get out of bed and move around immediately following their procedure
  • Following a radial artery access procedure, many patients are discharged from the hospital in the same day, unlike a traditional femoral artery access procedure

What to Expect During Radial Artery Access

During a radial artery access procedure, patients can expect:

  • Your doctor will insert an IV and use a mild sedative will to keep you relaxed during the procedure.
  • A local anesthetic will be placed near the wrist to numb the area where the catheter will be inserted.
  • Following the procedure, your doctor will remove the IV and catheter and remove the wrist will be bandaged.
  • Following a radial artery access procedure, many patients are discharged from the hospital in the same day, unlike a traditional femoral artery access procedure.

Am I a Candidate for Radial Artery Access?

Radial artery access is not available to all patients or for all procedures. To be considered a candidate, patients must:

  • Have good blood supply to their hands through both the radial and the ulnar artery
  • Not be very thin
  • Not have small or twisted arteries

If you are in need of a cardiac catheterization procedure, talk to your doctor to find out if you may be a candidate for a radial artery access procedure.