Health Headlines: Hand-to-heart catheters

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 6:30 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - From heart procedures to treating strokes, more than a million cardiac catheterization procedures are performed each year in the United States. But now, there might be a new and less invasive option that involves a catheter going from your hand to your heart.

The inside of a cath lab is no doubt one of the busiest places in a hospital. For decades, catheters were inserted through the groin.

Dr. Karim Al-Azizi says, “The way we want to think about this is that all roads lead to Rome. The moment you get into the arteries and the blood vessels, you have access to the rest of the body.

But now, surgeons are accessing a person’s heart and head through their hands.

“Essentially, there are two areas on the hand that we access the arteries for a heart catheterization.,” says Dr. Al-Azizi. “One is the traditional, right here in the wrist. The other that we wanted to test its safety is right here in the hand, and it’s essentially the same artery, but in a different location.”

Dr. Al-Azizi is an interventional cardiologist who is leading the DIPRA study. It’s the first to compare proximal radial artery access to distal radial artery access.

“With the radial artery, there is also an increased risk of these arteries getting damaged and perhaps closing down over time called radial artery occlusion. And so, distal radial has been shown to have lower radial artery occlusion rates.”

Results show the distal radial artery catheter was just as safe, did not cause more blood loss, and did not impact hand function, ultimately giving cardiologists another option.

Hand access for catheters is also used for dialysis patients and could be extremely helpful as they often need repeat procedures. Now, a longer study is underway.