Story by LaTrice Currie
Eyewitness News Anchor
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)--George Roopnaraine, Patient says, "I had some funny sensation in my chest and it came from when I was walking up hills."
Doctors told George Roopnaraine he needed a cardiac catheterization to find out why he was having chest pains.
In most catheterizations, doctors take a very thin wire and snake it from the femoral artery in the groin, up to the heart. It's a way to find plaque buildup or blockages in the coronary arteries. Doctors like it because it's a straight path, meaning there aren't many twists and turns to get to the heart, but that approach isn't always safe.
Dr. Ramesh Mazhari, George Washington University Hospital says, "Bleeding complications can be very serious. Patients need blood transfusions. Patients can die from bleeding complications."
But now doctors hope to cut down the risk of bleeding by entering the body from the radial artery in the wrist.
Dr. Ramesh Mazhari, George Washington University Hospital says, "It's a much smaller artery. If there is bleeding, it's visible and it's very easy to stop a smaller artery from bleeding compared to a deeper artery in the leg."
Dr. Mazhari says up to three percent of patients who undergo traditional catheterization through the groin experience bleeding. but going through the wrist, cuts the risk by 60 percent.
Dr. Ramesh Mazhari, George Washington University Hospital says "A radial procedure can be very challenging. It can take a long time to get comfortable. It requires a new set of skills."
But Mazhari believes it's worth it not only because it may be safer, but it's also better for patient comfort. Usually patients are asked to lie still for four to six hours after a catheterization to lessen the chance of bleeding. But after the radial procedure, patients are able to get up and walk around immediately after.
George Roopnaraine, Patient says, "The wrist didn't hurt or anything. I was in no pain when they finished with me."
These radial procedures are really good for patients who are obese or who suffer back pain and can't lie down for a long period of time.
While this procedure is very common in other countries, it's only done in about 1 percent of U-S cases.