Now, even more impactful, was the recent recommendation from the European Society of Cardiology that the radial approach should be considered as the first-line access site:
“The radial approach for percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) was developed 20 years ago and is used for more than 50% of procedures in France, Scandinavian countries, the UK, Spain and Italy. Despite the advantages of radial access some countries in Europe such as Germany use radial access for fewer than 10% of PCI….
“Evidence has accumulated in the literature showing the benefits of radial over femoral access for PCI including reduced bleeding and improved survival. In addition, the development of smaller and thinner devices has made the radial approach increasingly practical.”
For most of us in the interventional cardiology world, the radial approach has been slowly gaining traction over the past 5 years in the US. As of 2007, less than 2% of all coronary stent procedures were done from the wrist but in 2012, according to the National Cardiovascular Data Registry (NCDR) more than 11% were done radial style.
Patient safety and comfort are always a concern to physicians and the radial approach has shown superiority to the femoral (groin) approach in both categories. In terms of safety, numerous studies have shown significantly less bleeding complications as compared with the femoral approach. This is in large part due to the fact that unlike the radial artery, which is bordered by bone and connective tissue, the femoral artery lies right next to a large caliber femoral vein and complications can be difficult to identify at first because of the large potential space for blood to go, i.e. the thigh or abdomen. Women are actually at higher risk of groin complications from cardiac cath and currently Dr. Safirstein is the Principle Investigator of SAFE-PCI, a multicenter, randomized control trial looking at the benefits of the radial approach in women, run in collaboration with more than 25 of the best coronary centers of excellence across the US.
Comparing comfort of the 2 techniques, it is not hard to see why patients have preferred radial more than 90% of the time. Cath from the wrist allows patients to sit up immediately after the procedure (even when a stent is placed) with a pressure dressing over the small puncture site on the wrist. The femoral approach demands anywhere from 4-8 hours of lying flat so as not to disrupt the clot that forms over the femoral puncture site. This becomes particularly relevant in patients who have back pain issues or cannot lie flat for any reason.
From a cost standpoint, less complications mean less money spent on follow-up imaging studies, blood products that might be required, consults with other specialists, and of course, length of stay. The radial approach has been shown to save both hospitals and patients money and time in the hospital.
Drs. Safirstein and Fusman both are proficient in radial cath and Dr. Safirstein served as the Director of Transradial Intervention at Morristown Medical Center. Later this year, he will be Course Director for the annual Mid-Atlantic Radial Symposium (MARS2013), hosting world-renowned experts who will educate both physicians and cath lab staff from NY/NJ/PA on everything transradial!