Researchers at the University of Cincinnati are conducting new clinical trials to establish the best possible way of utilizing the wrist for the entry site in cardiac catheterization.

The clinical trials study the most innovative ways of removing artery blockages through angioplasties in women, said Imran Arif, associate professor of medicine at UC.

“UC has done testing with 16 or 17 patients in the last three months alone,” Arif said.

For the best results, heart catheterization and angioplasty with the wrist method is being tested on low-risk patients, Arif said. 

“In these appropriate patients, a radial approach with experienced operators appears to be safer for the patients with less risk of potential complications,” said Tarek Helmy, professor of medicine. “This is something we are pursuing actively in this institution as part of the national study and we are hoping to come up with some data to further define the benefits of this procedure.”

Using the wrist approach is better than the widely used groin access site for patient health and recovery, Arif said. 

The procedure is especially safer for women who experience a higher risk of bleeding in the groin access site compared to men, Arif said. 

“In the groin approach patients have to lie down for close to six hours, but with the wrist approach you can sit up right after,” Arif said.  “Also, patients can easily bleed from the groin, and it’s difficult to control around the thigh and abdomen, whereas with the wrist you just have to hold a lot of pressure on the artery site and it’s much easier to control,” said Arif.

The wrist procedure has also proven to be more cost effective, Arif said. 

“The patient gets the wrist heart catheterization, gets the angioplasty, they stay a few hours and then they go home the same day,” Arif said. “So it saves cost for the healthcare system, and that’s what’s driven the arm approach.”

Using the wrist as an entry site has seen an increase in usage from 1 percent to 10-15 percent usage in the US over the last few years, Arif said. Traditionally, heart catheterization has been done through the groin approach.

“It’s another way to do the same procedure, and at the end of the day it benefits the patient, saves cost to the healthcare system, and saves lives,” Arif said.