Radial intervention heart surgery limits patient's pain, complications


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN GUSKY


Posted on February 6, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 6 at 6:41 PM

ROUND ROCK, Texas -- Radial intervention is heart surgery through the wrist. The procedure was first developed in Europe and is now being used in the U.S.

Patients and doctors at Scott & White in Round Rock say there are numerous advantages to the procedure, including being relatively pain-free during recovery.

Judy Boegler got a warm greeting from Dr. Rafael Gonzalez at Scott & White in Round Rock as they discussed her recent procedure.

"It is just absolutely wonderful," said Boegler, with a slight giggle.

Those aren't the words normally used to describe heart surgery, but that's exactly what Boegler needed back in August to correct her stenosis, or clogging of the heart arteries.

"Originally the only options we had as a heart surgeon was opening up your chest or your heart arteries," said Gonzalez.

That became outdated several decades ago when doctors started performing angioplasty and stenting surgeries by going through the patient's groin or femoral artery. Complications from excessive bleeding and the ensuing immobility immediately following the operation posed problems.

"The natural progression was to eliminate some of these pitfalls that we have going into the femoral artery," said Gonzalez.

That's what's led to the radial procedure where doctors now go in through the radial artery in the wrist.

Gonzalez, an interventional cardiologist, explained in a demonstration Wednesday.

"We're able to put a tube like this into the wrist artery," he said. "Then I run catheters that look like this through the wrist, and this tube into your heart. From there I am able to take pictures of your heart arteries."

"They found that the bleeding complications almost go to zero through the wrist, and the comfort for the patient is exponentially different," said Gonzalez.

Boegler has had heart procedures done through the groin and the wrist

"It's like night and day," she said.

She says the peace of mind that comes with radial intervention is invaluable.

"There's really no pain," said Boegler. "You don't really have to worry about anything happening to where it would tear loose."

Gonzalez says there are some limitations when it comes to radial intervention. He says if large catheters are needed, surgeons still must go through the groin. He says femoral or groin procedures are only needed in about one in 10 operations.

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