Most people have heard of cardiac catheterization, a procedure designed to diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease. During cardiac catheterization, a catheter is inserted into an artery or vein and threaded to the heart, allowing doctors to perform diagnostics or treatment such as coronary angioplasty and stenting. What you may not know is that there are different options when it comes to where the catheter is inserted.


Cardiac Catheterization Approaches

There are two common types of cardiac catheterization: transradial and transfemoral. In a transradial cardiac catheterization, the catheter is inserted through the radial artery located in the arm. Imaging is then used to guide the tube through the network of blood vessels to the heart. Depending on the reason for the procedure, the tube may have dye, a balloon or other tools attached to it.


In a transfemoral cardiac catheterization procedure, the catheter is inserted into the femoral artery. This is a large artery located in the groin that supplies blood to the leg. The tube is then threaded via blood vessels to the heart. The various tools attached to the tube will depend on the procedure being performed.


The Differences Between the Two Approaches

You may be wondering which one is better. Although transradial cardiac catheterization may have a slightly lower risk for complications compared to the transfemoral approach, both are considered safe and effective.


The main differences between the procedures are:

  • Transfemoral cardiac catheterization has a higher risk of bleeding than the transradial approach.


  • There is less discomfort with transradial cardiac catheterization than the transfemoral option. However, it is more technically difficult to perform than the femoral approach due to the smaller size of the radial artery.


  • Transfemoral cardiac catheterization requires patients to lie flat for 4 to 6 hours after the procedure and involves a compression process. With the transradial approach, patients can move around soon after the procedure once the effects of anesthesia have worn off.


  • While the femoral artery is the only source of blood to the leg, there are other sources of blood to the hand, other than the radial artery.


Which One Is Right For You?

Both procedures carry the same risks, including blood clots, bleeding, infection, damage to blood vessels or arteries, and other possible complications. The right procedure for you will depend on your unique health situation and your doctor’s training and experience. Regardless of the approach, recovery time from cardiac catheterization is short, and there is a low risk of complications overall.


Advanced Heart and Vascular Center

Advanced Heart and Vascular Center is a modern, outpatient cardiac catheterization and vascular lab that is designed to help patients receive quality care outside of the traditional hospital setting. The on-site cath lab allows cardiologists from Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists to perform radial and femoral heart catheterizations, in order to diagnose and treat a wide range of cardiovascular issues.


To schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists, call (318) 798-9400.