Heart HQ uses an alternate route to reach blood vessels during cardiac stenting and diagnostic angiography, which investigates abnormalities in the heart. Clinical and interventional cardiologist Dr Stuart Butterly uses distal radial artery access through a small incision at the base of the thumb. He uses ultrasound to see the distal radial artery, which is very small. Then under the guidance of ultrasound, he puts a needle into the artery, which makes way for the catheter to the heart.
Traditionally, doctors gain access through the femoral artery in the groin or the radial artery at the wrist, but this involves a higher risk of bleeding and less patient comfort. Some doctors in Europe and Russia have been using the distal radial artery technique for 15 years, but it has only become more widely popular in the past 18 months.
For the past two years, Dr Butterly has successfully completed many cases using distal radial artery access at Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital. He became trained in the procedure to reduce the risk of bleeding and improve the comfort level for patients. The technique has been well-received by patients who have previously had angiograms and stents via the traditional access routes. It also provides much quicker patient recovery and easier management of post-procedure bleeding. Dr Butterly was trained to use the technique in Sydney and is one of only a few Australian cardiologists qualified to do the procedure.
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