Transradial Cardiac Catheterization

Transradial cardiac catheterization at UPMC offers a more comfortable alternative to traditional cardiac catheterization for some patients.

Cardiac catheterization is a diagnostic test that uses a catheter and x-ray machine to assess the heart and its blood supply. It is used to find the cause of symptoms, such as chest pain, that could indicate heart problems.

In a typical cardiac catheterization, a cardiologist inserts a small thin tube into the femoral artery near the groin and advances it into the aorta to assess cardiac function and the coronary arteries. The same procedure, when it is performed through the wrist via the radial artery, is called transradial cardiac catheterization.

Transradial catheterizations are not appropriate for patients who have inadequate blood flow to the hand, injuries to the hand, or damage to the radial artery.

If you need a cardiac catheterization, you should discuss with your cardiologist which approach is best for you.

The Benefits of Transradial Cardiac Catheterization

Transradial catheterization is associated with less chance of nerve damage and is typically more comfortable for patients.

 Transradial approach


Minimizes nerve damage through use of radial artery
  • Radial artery is more accessible than femoral artery.
  • Less chance of puncture site complications, such as hematoma, AV fistula, and aneurysm.

Increases patient comfort
  • No need to lie flat for four to six hours after procedure; this is useful for patients who are obese, have low back pain, or who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Less chance of bleeding; therefore, less need for blood transfusions.
  • Most patients can walk out of the catheterization lab after the procedure.
  • Decreased use of pain medications and less recovery time than for traditional approach.
Provides accurate images
  • Offers the same technology and clear imaging results as traditional cardiac catheterization.
  • Approach also can be used for coronary stent procedures with similar success rates as femoral approach 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), and you may experience some warmness or light burning.
  • A nurse will place a plastic band tightly on your arm just above the injection site. It will be gradually loosened and removed once all bleeding has stopped.
  • You should not move your wrist or arm for a period of time.

After Your Transradial Cardiac Catheterization

  • A nurse will give you specific instructions about your activity level while you are recovering, including restrictions on usage and the amount of weight you can lift.
  • Normal activity usually can resume within two to seven days of the procedure.

Contact Us  

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

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

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