Catheters are small, flexible tubes inserted into the body. The catheter is carefully threaded into the heart using an X-ray machine that produces real-time images (fluoroscopy). Once the catheter is in place, contrast is injected, and images of the heart are taken.
Traditionally, interventional cardiologists perform cardiac catheterization using a puncture in the leg, but studies have shown going through the wrist—using the transradial approach—produces the same results with a shorter hospital stay and less bleeding or discomfort for the patient.
Interventional cardiologists at Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital – Dallas have performed the transradial approach since 1996. Medical Director for the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit and Medical Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation, Jeffrey M. Schussler, MD, FACC, FSCAI, FSCCT, FACP, provides an overview for using the wrist approach to heart catheterizations.