Today, Dr. Oz featured cardiac catheterization, angioplasty, and stents from the wrist on his afternoon TV show. Billed as part of his series, “Dr. Oz’s Ultimate Insider’s Guide: The Newest Medical Breakthroughs,” Mehmet Oz interviewed Dr. Jennifer Tremmel, Director of Transradial Interventions at Stanford Medical Center, Clinical Director of Women’s Heart Health at Stanford Clinic and friend of Angioplasty.Org (you can read my interview with Dr. Tremmel in our Transradial Center).
In 10 short minutes, Dr. Oz exposed his viewers (and there are 3 million of them!!) to what he called, “…a radical new procedure that can help you find out if you are at risk for heart disease and treat it at the same time.”
He was talking, of course, about the transradial approach to cardiac catheterization and PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention). And he gets his viewers’ interest by introducing the segment as taking them “behind closed doors” to institutions that are revolutionizing medicine, in this case, his own field of heart disease (Dr. Oz is a cardiac surgeon) — part of his “Ultimate Insider’s Guide.”
Of course, to quibble just a tad, transradial angioplasty is neither new, nor radical, nor “behind closed doors.” At Angioplasty.Org we have hosted a Transradial Center for over five years and, as I wrote earlier this summer, this is actually the 20th anniversary of transradial angioplasty (first performed in 1992 by Dutch cardiologist, Dr. Ferdinand Kiemeneij). The technique, also called TransRadial Intervention or TRI, consists of threading a catheter through to the coronary arteries via the radial artery in the wrist instead of the femoral artery in the groin. Outside of the United States, TRI is used in the majority of procedures. It’s really only in the U.S. where this has been an “unknown” technique. But that is changing: wrist angioplasty is gaining in popularity — in fact it’s doubled in use in just the past few years. And it’s not exactly a total secret. Check out our “Transradial Hospital Locator” for a center near you that practices the wrist approach (there are over 200 listings).
So why is the wrist approach preferable in many cases? Because it is safer, has less bleeding and other access site complications, is more comfortable for the patient, and allows the patient to stand up, walk around, and go home very shortly after the procedure. Why is it not practiced more in the U.S.? Because cardiologists haven’t been trained in the technique during their fellowships, there has been little impetus to alter practice from the comfortable femoral technique. But that’s changing: pioneering physicians like John Coppola and Tift Mann went abroad to learn the transradial technique in Japan, India and Europe, and then brought it back home and taught it to…well, cardiologists like Dr. Tremmel, who now do 80-90% of their cases from the wrist.
Dr. Oz performed a great service for heart patients today by publicizing the transradial approach. Because when I ask cardiologists, “What is the primary driver that will increase the use of the transradial approach?” they answer “Patient preference!”
So now Dr. Oz’s audience of 3 million has gotten an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at this “new” procedure that many cardiologists outside of the U.S. have used for years…but the truth is that this TV show will definitely drive greater adoption of this technique here.
And interestingly, when referring to the femoral (groin) approach to catheter-based procedures, Dr. Oz called it “the old-fashioned way!” You heard it here. Don’t be old-fashioned. Get with the times. Learn the transradial technique!
Thank you Dr. Oz!!