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Radial Artery Cardiac Catheterization and Intervention

You may have read elsewhere on the site that Dr. Farrugia spent eight years leading Outpatient Vascular Medicine at Barnabas Health Medical Group and leading the Cardiac Cath Lab at Monmouth Medical Center. And this experience has made him a go-to resource for Intra-radial Artery Cardiac Catheterization. This is a diagnostic process used by interventional cardiologists and represents an advanced, safe, and minimally invasive procedure that offers a first-hand and direct understanding of the potential occlusion of arteries supplying the heart.

During this procedure, a small spaghetti-like device (the catheter) is threaded into the radial artery through an incision in the arm. Using fluoroscopy or continuous x-ray, Dr. Farrugia guides the catheter through the artery and up to the heart.

Some interventional cardiologists and electrophysiologists may also perform this procedure using the transfemoral approach, which involves inserting the certain catheter incision in the leg and following the femoral artery up to the heart. While both are effective, the trans-radial approach has a lower risk and a shorter recovery than its transfemoral counterpart.

Why You May Need Trans-Radial Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is most often performed when a patient is experiencing chest pain, also known as angina. This is often due to partial blockage of an artery that supplies blood to the heart. If this artery is not unclogged, the heart me not receive enough oxygen, and the patient will experience a heart attack.

If a blockage has been identified, a coronary angioplasty may be performed. This is a process by which a balloon attached to the end of the catheter is inflated at the narrowed part of the artery. When the balloon is inflated, any arterial plaque is pushed onto the sides of the arterial wall, and the blood vessel is opened up. Often a medicated stent (tiny metal lattice) is placed in the artery to ensure this plaque remains away from the blood flow.

Cardiac catheterization may also be used to widen a heart valve and for derivative procedures used to improve heart rhythm in patients with cardiac arrhythmias. This is known as cardiac catheter ablation.

The Potential Risks of Transradial Cardiac Catheter Catheterization

While cardiac catheterization is far safer than open-heart surgery, it still comes with some risks. Most of these risks are either mild or temporary. They can include bleeding and pain from the catheter insertion site, infection or reaction to the catheter, or any dyes used. More severe but rare potential complications can include damage to the heart or blood vessel, blood clots, nerve damage, etc. Of course, these risks can be minimized by employing an experienced and knowledgeable interventional cardiologist such as Dr. Farrugia.