CAD Radial Technique FAQ

North Central Arkansas Coronary Artery Disease Treatment

For more information regarding the radial technique, contact Cardiovascular Associates at 870-425-8288.

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is a condition in which plaques build up on the walls of the coronary arteries – the vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle. These plaques can cause a gradual but progressive narrowing of the artery, or they can suddenly rupture, causing a more acute obstruction. The CAD radial technique is an effective treatment that widens the arteries for better blood flow. Learn more about this procedure from answers to these frequently asked questions.

What is the radial technique?

Typically, for stent placement, the femoral artery in the groin, is the standard access site. Using the radial approach, an interventional cardiologist uses the small artery in the wrist as an access site, improving patient safety and comfort.

Am I a candidate for the radial technique?

Unless they have a poor radial pulse, most patients are potential candidates.

Why does it improve patient safety and satisfaction?

With cardiac catheterization and interventions, regardless of the cause or the source, bleeding leads to worse patient outcomes. Bleeding has been shown to be one of the most potent risk factors for adverse outcomes (e.g. death, recurrent heart attacks, etc), regardless of the technical success of the procedure itself. As such, there has been an intense focus in the last decade or so on reducing bleeding complications.

The radial artery is not only a much smaller vessel than the femoral artery (the standard site of access for cardiac catheterization), but it is in a place where it can be very easily compressed if bleeding does occur. If there is a problem with bleeding at this site, even minimal manual pressure over the artery can quite easily control the problem. Many studies have now shown that bleeding rates with the radial approach, when compared to the standard femoral approach, are much lower, leading to improved short and long term outcomes.

Another benefit of the radial technique is improved patient comfort. After a femoral catheterization, patients need to lie flat on their back for 3-4 hours after the procedure. With the radial approach, patients can be up and out of bed in an hour after their procedure.

If it improves patient safety and comfort, why aren’t all stent placements done using the radial technique?

Presently in the US, less than 10% of all catheterizations are done via the radial technique. This is primarily a function of currently practicing cardiologists’ lack of training in the technique. Currently, all of our practicing cardiologists primarily perform this state-of-the-art technique.

For most of today’s practicing cardiovascular interventionists, adopting the radial approach means learning a new technique. There is a learning curve to the radial approach to cardiac catheterization, and most experts will say that it takes 50-100 cases to become proficient with the technique. To a busy practicing cardiologist, who is very used to and very comfortable with today’s standard femoral (groin) technique, this is not an easy sell. However, the ‘radialist movement’ is gaining traction in the US, and its numbers are increasing as training programs are now recognizing its value, while doing a better job teaching the technique to current cardiology fellows.

Where are stent placements done?

Cardiovascular Associates of North Central Arkansas cardiologists Dr. Michael Camp, Dr. Otis Warr, Dr. John Edavettal, and Dr. Patrick Tobbia perform this procedure in Baxter Regional Medical Center’s state-of-the-art cath lab facilities.