Explore UPMC.com

Questions About Heart Catheterization?

Contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. We'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Transradial Cardiac Catheterization

Transradial cardiac catheterization at UPMC's Heart and Vascular Institute offers a more comfortable alternative to traditional heart catheterization for some patients.

Cardiac catheterization is a diagnostic test to assess the heart and its blood supply. It helps doctors find the cause of symptoms — such as chest pain — that could indicate heart problems.

Traditional vs. Transradial Cardiac Catheterization

In a traditional cardiac catheterization, a cardiologist inserts a small, thin tube (a catheter) into the femoral artery near the groin and advances it into the aorta to assess cardiac function and the coronary arteries.

Transradial cardiac catheterization is the same procedure, except the doctor accesses the radial artery by inserting the catheter through the wrist.

Transradial heart catheterizations are not appropriate for people who have:

  • Inadequate blood flow to the hand
  • Injuries to the hand
  • Damage to the radial artery

If you need a heart catheterization, your cardiologist can help decide which approach is best for you.

The Benefits of Transradial Cardiac Catheterization

Transradial heart catheterization offers several benefits compared to the traditional approach.

Transradial Approach Benefits
Minimizes nerve damage through use of radial artery
  • Radial artery is more accessible than femoral artery.
  • Reduces puncture site complications (such as hematoma, arteriovenous fistula, and aneurysm).
  • Limits the chance of bleeding; therefore, less need for blood transfusions.
Increases patient comfort
  • No need to lie flat for four to six hours after the procedure. This is useful for patients who are obese, have low back pain, or have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Most patients can walk out of the catheterization lab after the procedure.
  • Decreases the use of pain medicine and reduces recovery time.
Provides accurate images
  • Offers the same technology and clear imaging results as traditional cardiac catheterization.
  • Has similar success rates as femoral approach when used for coronary stent procedures in suitable patients.


What to Expect During Your Transradial Cardiac Catheterization

  • The cardiologist will inject medication into your radial artery through a small tube (catheter). You may experience some warmness or light burning.
  • A nurse will place a plastic band tightly on your arm just above the injection site. Once all bleeding stops, the nurse will gradually loosen and remove the band.
  • You should not move your wrist or arm for a period of time.

After your transradial heart catheterization procedure:

  • A nurse will give you specific instructions about your activity level while you are recovering. These may include restrictions on using your arm and the amount of weight you can lift.
  • You can usually resume normal activity within two to seven days.

Contact Us

Before contacting the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute about a transradial cardiac catheterization, you should discuss with your cardiologist if it's the best approach for you.  

For more information, or to make an appointment, call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484) or email HeartAndVascular@upmc.edu.

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences | Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit www.healthwise.org

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA | UPMC.com