In the traditional approach to angiography and other procedures to diagnose and treat heart problems, the catheter is threaded through an artery in the groin. Transradial angiography uses an artery in the wrist instead – the radial artery.
Patients typically can get up and walk immediately after the procedure, and the risk of complications is lower. Conversely, when the catheter is inserted through the groin artery, the patient must rest in bed for several hours following the procedure. Transradial angiography is carried out as a daycare procedure and it takes 3 hours approximately from admission to blood tests, echocardiogram, procedure to discharge.
Bleeding is the biggest risk with the traditional approach using the femoral artery deep in the groin. Studies show that approximately 10 percent of angioplasty procedures trigger minor bleeds, and 5 percent become major bleeds. The wrist artery is so close to the skin’s surface that bleeding can be recognized and controlled quickly.
During angiography (as shown in the image on the left), your doctor will make a very small cut in the top, inner part of your leg, or just above your hand. He or she will put a thin plastic tube, called a “catheter,” in a blood vessel which is just below the cut. Then he or she will move the tube through your blood vessels to your heart. When the tube is in place, your doctor can do different tests. Most people have a test called “coronary angiography.” For this test, your doctor will inject a dye that creates pictures to show if your heart arteries are clogged.