Accessing the heart through a blood vessel in the wrist
Expert Heart & Vascular Care
Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our heart or vascular specialists.
Transradial catheterization is a form of cardiac catheterization in which doctors use the radial artery, located in the wrist, as a pathway to diagnose and treat many conditions, including coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease. The advantages of the procedure include:
- Faster recovery
- Less pain
- Less risk of bleeding
Our Interventional Cardiology Program is a national leader in this technique, and the doctors at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital use it in 80 percent or more of their cases—double the national average. Patients can recover in the hospital’s dedicated Radial Recovery Lounge after their procedures.
What to expect from transradial catheterization
You’ll likely be awake for the procedure, and you’ll receive medication to help you relax and to numb the wrist area. Your doctor will place a small catheter in your radial artery and insert a guide wire. The doctor will thread the guide wire through your blood vessels until it reaches the correct area of your heart.
Next, the doctor will place a thin, flexible tube called a catheter over the guide wire and thread it to the same spot before removing the wire. The catheter will carry tools or medications that the doctor will use. After the procedure is done, the doctor will remove the catheter from your wrist.
Afterward, you’ll wear a wristband that will keep pressure on your wrist. You’ll be able to sit up and walk around right away. Most patients are able to go home the same day, though someone will need to drive you.
Coarctation of the aorta is a narrowing of the aorta, the body’s largest artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease in the United States.
A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction (MI), requires emergency medical attention. A heart attack happens when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked.
Kawasaki disease is a rare condition that causes inflammation of the blood vessels and can result in heart disease.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when blood flow to the arms and legs is reduced due to narrowed or blocked arteries.
An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.
Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.
An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.
The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.
Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.
Pulse volume recording tests are used to evaluate blood flow through the arteries in your arms or legs.
Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms and chemically induced stress tests.