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Diagnostic Cardiac Catheterization

If you are experiencing symptoms of heart failure, there’s a good chance we can diagnose your condition without surgery or painful procedures by using diagnostic cardiac catheterization. The Wake Forest Heart & Vascular Center is one of approximately 10 percent of medical centers nationwide that uses radial catheterization. Radial catheterization is a minimally invasive technique that helps doctors access your heart through a tiny incision in your wrist.

Diagnostic Radial Catheterization at Wake Heart and Vascular Center 

Radial catheterization has become our preferred approach for cardiac catheterization. In fact, we perform 70 percent of diagnostic catheterization procedures through the radial artery, totaling more than 2,000 procedures each year. 

Our use of radial catheterization is part of our commitment to offering the most advanced diagnostic services for heart and vascular disease. All of our vascular surgeons and interventional cardiologists are experienced in this approach to diagnostic cardiac catheterization and use it whenever possible. 

Radial catheterization is a technique to help diagnose certain heart conditions such as: 

Benefits of Radial Artery Catheterization 

This diagnostic cardiac catheterization technique involves threading a thin, spaghetti-like tube (catheter) through the radial artery in your wrist all the way up to your heart. Benefits of the radial approach include: 

  • Increased comfort that comes from using a small incision point 
  • Less bruising and bleeding 
  • Fewer complications 
  • Faster overall recovery

Generally, patients with a good blood supply to their hands can receive the radial approach. If you are very thin or have small or twisted arteries in your wrist, we’ll need to use a different approach, such as the artery in your groin. Our specialists always have your health and best outcome in mind. 

Radial Artery Catheterization: What to Expect 

Before radial catheterization, you will receive medication through an IV that may make you sleepy, but you’ll be awake for the procedure. We will also give you medication to numb the skin on your wrist skin where we insert the catheter. You may feel some pressure, but you shouldn’t feel any pain. After the area is numb, we’ll pass a thin, flexible tube through the artery to your heart. 

When the catheter reaches your heart, your doctor can: 

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

After your procedure, we’ll place a band similar to a wristwatch around your wrist to apply pressure and prevent bleeding. Most patients are able to get up almost immediately after this test.

Contact Wake Forest Baptist 

New patients may request an appointment for a diagnostic cardiac catheterization online. Or, for more information, please call: 

  • 336-716-WAKE or 
  • 888-716-WAKE (toll-free)


Quick Reference

Heart & Vascular Center
New Patients

Local 336-716-WAKE
Toll-free 888-716-WAKE

Returning Patients

Vascular 336-716-4151
Heart 336-716-6674

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Last Updated: 08-24-2016
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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.

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