Angioplasty risks can be reduced significantly if it is done through the wrist, rather than through the groin. This procedure is used to unclog a blocked artery. Heart attacks, which occur when blood flow gets blocked by the build-up of fatty deposits linked with high levels of bad cholesterol, may be prevented by undergoing the angioplasty procedure.
In the past, angioplasty risks may outweigh benefits when it is done using the groin’s major femoral artery. Typically, doctors send a tube carrying a balloon and a collapsed stent through the artery to the blocked section. The balloon is then inflated to open up the blocked area and the stent is released like a scaffolding to keep that section of the artery open.
Risks and complications include blood clots and internal bleeding. Going through the femoral artery is risky as this artery is a large blood vessel embedded deep in tissue. This makes it harder for doctors to control bleeding. After angioplasty, medical staff usually have to press the insertion point at the groin for 30 minutes. Then a super tight bandage has to be used to keep the opening closed. Patients have to lie in bed for four to six hours after the bleeding stops. Patients also have to ensure that they do not over-exert their legs for up to five days to allow the wound to heal more quickly.
By going through the smaller radial artery of the wrist, such risks can be reduced and better managed, and patients will also feel more comfortable. In addition, any blood loss at the wrist can be stopped easily with a bandage.
The change is prompted by advances in medical equipment. One international study done in 2012, of more than 7000 people, found that the wrist approach reduced major vascular complications by 63%. Another study showed that angioplasty risk of death is reduced by 43%.
Angioplasty recovery time can be reduced when it is done through the wrist. Patients can move about sooner. Patients have been known to be able to exercise normally two days after the operation.
Is the new angioplasty procedure suitable for everyone? Unfortunately, patients cannot use the wrist method if their wrist blood vessels are convoluted, crooked and full of loops. Patients with kidney problems may also not be suitable for the wrist method as they may also need the radial artery for dialysis, in which needles are often inserted along the arm.
Watch the video below to see how the new angioplasty procedure is done: