A New, Minimally Invasive Heart Procedure
Feb 3, 2014
of the newest procedures to diagnose heart disease is available at
University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP). This
approach to cardiac catheterization allows physicians to see what is
going on inside the heart through a catheter that is inserted through
the patient’s wrist, helping patients to feel more comfortable.
Cardiac catheterization is used to diagnose and treat heart problems,
such as clogged blood vessels. The minimally invasive procedure uses a
long, flexible tube (catheter) gently guided through the blood vessels
to evaluate how well the heart is working.
the catheter has been inserted through a small puncture in the groin.
At UMCPP, some patients now have the option for a “transradial”
procedure in which the catheter is guided to the heart via a puncture in
the wrist, says George Heyrich, MD, an interventional cardiologist on
staff at UMCPP.
“The transradial approach uses smaller catheters, and studies have
shown it is associated with reduced vascular complications,” Dr. Heyrich
For Diagnosis and Emergency Treatment
Cardiac catheterization at UMCPP is performed in a fully digital
laboratory with high-resolution monitors, state-of-the-art procedure
lighting and streamlined overhead equipment. At UMCPP, cardiac
catheterization is used to:
- Diagnose chronic heart problems such as heart-muscle or
valve defects and coronary artery blockages. The study determines a
course of treatment, if necessary.
- Treat patients experiencing an acute heart attack—a
procedure known as emergency angioplasty. The procedure locates and
opens blocked vessels and immediately restores blood flow to the heart.
“Cardiac catheterization is the gold standard
for diagnosing symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath or to
follow up on an abnormal cardiac stress test,” says Dr. Heyrich, who is
board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular diseases,
interventional cardiology and cardiovascular CT imaging. “By doing the
procedure in the hospital, we have the entire medical team available to
provide exceptional care for each patient.”
A More Comfortable Experience
Cardiac catheterization through the wrist involves local anesthesia
and mild sedation—similar to a colonoscopy. “Patients prefer it because
they can sit up right after the procedure,” says Dr. Heyrich.
The transradial procedure is not for all patients, including those
who have had prior bypass surgery or those with circulation problems in
one of the main arteries of the wrist, Dr. Heyrich notes.