What is Radial Catheterization? Heart Disease Treatment

Radial catheterization (also known as transradial cardiac catheterization) is a procedure that is used to diagnose or treat certain heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease, heart defects, heart valve disease, cancer or heart failure.

During Radial Catheterization

Radial catheterization is done in a hospital. Before your radial catheterization, you'll be given some medication through an IV that may make you sleepy, but you'll be awake during the procedure. The area where the catheter will be inserted will be numbed, so you may feel some pressure, but should not feel any pain.

After the area has been numbed, a thin, flexible tube will be passed through an artery in your wrist to your heart. When the catheter reaches your heart, your doctor can:

  • Collect blood samples 
  • Measure blood flow in the arteries of the heart 
  • Measure blood pressure in the arteries of the heart 
  • Get a tissue sample (biopsy) 
  • Check the oxygen levels in your heart 
  • Look for heart defects or heart valve defects 

Conditions that Can Be Treated with Radial Catheterization

Catheterization of the heart is often used as an emergency procedure to treat heart attacks. During radial catheterization, your doctor may perform angioplasty to remove plaque that is blocking an artery, or place a stent to hold an artery open. Minor surgical procedures to repair heart defects or replace leaky valves can also be done during radial catheterization.

[Watch a video with Dr. Robert Applegate describing the Radial Approach to Catheterization.]

After Radial Catheterization

After your radial catheterization procedure, you'll be taken to a recovery room. Once the catheter is removed, a nurse or technician will apply pressure to the insertion site for several minutes to prevent bleeding at the site. A band that is similar to a wristwatch will be placed around your wrist to continue to apply pressure for several hours while the artery heals.

At Wake Forest Baptist Health, radial catheterization has become the preferred approach to cardiac catheterization. You will have access to a team of expert health care professionals who will help manage your care throughout your radial catheterization procedure. Your team may include heart doctors (cardiologists), nurse specialists and others.

Request an Appointment with a Heart Center physician today.

Learn more about Wake Forest Baptist's cardiology services.


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Last Updated: 02-14-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.