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March 27, 2011 -- 8:22pm EDT

Transradial Cath in Bakersfield
Dr. Tommy Lee performing a transradial catheterizationI'm always keeping an eye on the growing number of news stories about a "revolutionary new way to open the coronary arteries": the transradial approach, that is, where the radial artery in the wrist is used as the entry point for catheters, angioplasty balloons and stents. This latest TV report was broadcast Friday on KGET-TV, Channel 17 in Bakersfield, California.

It's a good report because it not only interviews Dr. Tommy Lee, the interventional cardiologist who has started doing radial caths (about 100 so far) because he feels it is safer, but it has a couple patients talking about their experience. Dr. Lee states in the broadcast that he believes radial is the future of cardiac catheterization:

"We've done over a 100 procedures here at [Bakersfield] Memorial now and we've had no bleeding complications -- the patients just love the results."

Of course, a cardiologist in Europe might look at this broadcast and smile, because transradial to a European cardiologist (or a Chinese, Japanese or Indian cardiologist) is neither new nor revolutionary -- in OUS (Outside the United States) the transradial approach is used 40-50% of the time. Many cardiologists use it 90%. It's just that it has taken a long time for this approach to be accepted in the U.S. (You can read all about this in Angioplasty.Org's Transradial Center.)

But this technique, first described in 1989 by Montreal cardiologist Dr. Lucien Campeau, finally is catching on in the U.S. -- the chief advantages are reduction in bleeding complications, comfort for the patient and cost-savings for the healthcare system (since the complications are lower and patients can be safely discharged the same day).

BTW, a shout-out to Cindy Welch, whose blog "Designs from the Heart" is where I first saw this interview.

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