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Where is the access site for heart catheterization?

Traditionally, doctors have performed heart catheterization through the femoral artery in the right or left groin. A catheter, or straw-like tube, is inserted into this area and threaded up the artery to the heart.

However, more recently, researchers have developed a different access site, which is through the wrist. The advantage of going through the radial artery in the wrist is decreased bleeding complications at the puncture site. The radial artery is only the width of a spaghetti noodle; any bleeding is visible and easily controlled. In contrast, the traditional approach through the groin involves a much larger artery, which is the width of a thumb. If there is any bleeding, it is hidden under deep tissue as well as difficult to control because it's such a large artery.

If the groin is used as an access site, you have to lay flat for four to six hours after the procedure. With the access site at the wrist, you can sit upright. Doctors place a clear plastic band that is inflated with air over the wrist puncture site. This remains on the wrist for three hours.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.