An ailing heart has been repaired by clearing blocked arteries via the wrist for the first time, by cardiologists at the University of Illinois and Jesse Brown VA medical centers.
Called transradial angiography, the approach might lead to reduced patient complications and recovery time and decreased hospital costs.
The cardiologists offered the approach to heart angiograms and clearing blocked arteries.
In the procedure, a catheter is threaded through the small radial artery in the wrist rather than the larger femoral artery in the groin.
"It's a simple change that has a dramatic impact on the experience and recovery of the patient," said Dr. Adhir Shroff, assistant professor of cardiology at UIC.
The transradial approach can reduce bleeding- the most common complication, particularly among women and the elderly- to under 1 percent.
It also eliminates much of the discomfort associated with the procedure.
After a standard angiogram and angioplasty through the femoral artery, the patient needs to lie still on his or her back for four to six hours.
Shroff said that this can be very uncomfortable for elderly patients with back problems and walking can be uncomfortable for days.
On the other hand, patients who have the procedure done via the wrist can immediately sit up, eat, and walk without pain, said Shroff.
"The issue is really just the learning-curve. The change requires dozens of small changes-everything from redesigning the sterile drape so that the openings are at the wrist rather than the leg and finding smaller needles, wires and catheters to the way the table is set up," said Shroff.