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Posted on 06-04-2015

The Interventional Cardiology Service at Hospiten Estepona uses the radial access as the preferred method in cardiac catheterization, which means going in through the wrist instead of through the femoral artery in the groin, which is more beneficial for the patient.


Cardiac Catheterization  is a complex, invasive procedure that allows the anatomy of the heart and the coronary arteries to be assessed and the heart function to be studied. This set of procedures is carried out by the Interventional Cardiology Service and is used in diagnostics and therapeutics.

Cardiovascular catheterization is a procedure commonly used to detect obstructions in the heart’s blood vessels and anywhere else in the body and repairs the arteries using angioplasty and stents to restore blood flow. In most catheterization, a fine tube called a catheter is inserted in a major artery through the groin at the top of the leg to the heart or the peripheral arteries in the affected area. However, the use of more complex techniques and improved technology can allow doctors, particularly trained cardiologists, to carry out a cardiac catheterization with radial access, where the catheter is inserted through the wrist.

Why use the radial access for catheterization?

While carrying out catheterization with radial access is technically more difficult for the interventional cardiologist, the benefits for the patient are huge, as the procedure is generally much more comfortable and the risk of severe posterior hemorrhage greatly reduced according to the results of various recent studies. A recent article published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology states that “radial coronary catheterization is safe, feasible and effective”.


After catheterization that uses an entry point in the leg (femoral artery), a patient must lie still with pressure applied on the puncture point for various hours afterwards for the wound to heal. Movement during that time can cause bleeding requiring an even longer period in bed to reduce the risk of serious complications. Dr. Antonio Ramirez, Head of the Hospiten Estepona Interventional Cardiology service, says that for elderly patients and those suffering back pain or respiratory problems, being immobile for a number of hours after catheterization can be uncomfortable and troublesome.


In comparison, the wrist artery (radial) is smaller, is located just under the skin and responds more rapidly to pressure applied to close the wound, which significantly reduces the risk of complications and bleeding. Recovery time is also shorter and most patients can return to their normal lives more quickly. Access through the wrist constitutes a technical challenge, as the artery is small and winding, above all in elderly patients, thus requiring a more delicate approach of the cardiologist.