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May 4, 2010 -- 3:37pm EDT

Where Can I Get a Stent or Angioplasty Done Through the Wrist?
Dr. Sanjay Patel performing transradial procedureAt Angioplasty.Org, we've hosted a special section on the Transradial Approach for angioplasty and cardiac catheterization since 2007. In Europe and many countries around the world, almost half of catheter-based procedures are done using the radial artery in the wrist, instead of the femoral artery in the groin.

But in the United States, the wrist approach is utilized in less than 5% of cases. The reason is public education and professional training: patients don't know about it; many cardiologists haven't learned how to do it. Cardiologists are trained in fellowship programs and since most fellowship programs don't have "radialists" on the team, new cardiologists never learn the technique.

But this is changing. There's been an uptick in interest certainly, but also in numbers. Still the U.S. lags behind. Which is why Angioplasty.Org offers two important pages: one, for cardiologists and staff, is a list of training opportunities -- usually one or two day courses to learn about the wrist technique and to even get some "hands on" experience (pun intended).

But patients, who are about to have an angiogram or angioplasty or stent placement, should look over our Radial Hospital Locator -- a listing of scores of hospitals and practitioners who offer the radial approach. (And if you are a transradial cardiologist and are not listed, add your hospital or practice here.)

Why should patients want to have their procedure done via the wrist? A few benefits are:

  • lower (or no) bleeding complications;
  • greater patient comfort;
  • immediate ambulation -- patients can sit up and walk right after the procedure;
  • safe for outpatient procedures -- because the "hidden" type of bleeding complications don't occur in the radial approach, it is very safe for the patient to go home the same day.

As Dr. Howard Cohen of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York said to us about the wrist technique:

Patients really prefer it. 95% of people who've had it both ways would say "I'm coming back to you, Dr. Cohen because I like this transradial a lot better than the other way!"

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