Coronary angiography is performed on more than three million patients annually,
making it one of the most common outpatient procedures performed in the
The introduction of coronary angiography revolutionized the care of patients
with conditions such as congestive heart failure, angina and myocardial
infarction (heart attack). As both the technique of angiography and the
equipment used continue to evolve, significant improvements in patient
outcomes and safety have followed. In the past few years, a new approach
to coronary angiography has been introduced: transradial coronary angiography.
“The traditional coronary angiography technique involves puncturing
the common femoral artery, located in the groin, followed by the introduction
of a specially designed catheter with equipment at the end, and if needed,
coronary intervention (stenting),” explained
Sanjay Bhojraj, MD, board-certified cardiologist at
In the newer transradial approach, the patient’s hand is positioned
to allow access of the radial artery and a sheath is placed in the vessel.
Then, a specialized catheter is used to image the coronary arteries, and
if needed, a stent can be implanted during the procedure. After, an inflatable
wristband is placed on the patient to compress the vessel. As patients
are not required to lay flat for a prolonged period of time, they can
often recover in an armchair instead of a hospital bed.
“The risk of access site complications and infections are reduced
in both obese and diabetic patients, who have greater risks for these
complications with the traditional angiography technique. Additionally,
cardiac procedures that can be performed through the femoral artery can
also be performed through the radial artery,” Dr. Bhojraj said.
For patients, there are many benefits to this new approach. The rapid ambulation
time, often within the first hour after completion of the heart procedure,
results in faster discharge and reduced pain. There is also reduced risk
of access site complications such as infections and bleeding, even in
the most complex of cardiac patients. Patients who undergo uncomplicated
coronary stenting procedures are typically discharged the same day as
“In short, transradial coronary angiography allows patients to enjoy
a faster and more comfortable recovery, shorter hospital stays and less
complications after their heart procedure, while allowing the cardiologist
to perform almost all procedures designed for the traditional femoral
artery access approach,” Dr. Bhojraj added.
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