Cardiologists performing new procedure at Springs Memorial

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By Jenny Arnold

Two Lancaster cardiologists are up on the latest trend when it comes to heart catheterization.

Drs. Taral Patel and Paul Slota of Carolina Heart Specialists, who are affiliated with Springs Memorial Hospital, are among the first cardiologists in the area to offer radial artery cardiac catheterization as a first option for patients.

A cardiac catheterization typically involves inserting a small tube or sheath into a major artery, most commonly the femoral artery in the groin, and snaking a small catheter to the heart.

Contrast dye is injected through the catheter, generating motion-picture images of blood flow through the heart, giving doctors a look at the heart’s arteries and chambers.  

Angioplasty and stenting can then be performed as necessary through the catheter.

For procedures performed through the femoral artery, patients are usually prescribed two to eight hours of complete bed-rest after the procedure, along with compression or artificial closure devices known as plugs, to promote healing of the area and reduce bleeding.  

Commonly, patients experience pain and discomfort at the femoral-artery access site for several days or weeks after the procedure.

Major complications of this approach include severe bleeding, requiring transfusion or surgery to repair the femoral artery.  

With radial artery cardiac catheterization, cardiologists use the radial artery, which runs on the right side of the wrist.

“There’s an increase in patient comfort” with the procedure, Patel said. “There is less risk of major complications.”

Numerous clinical trials and studies about the radial procedure have shown a reduction in major complications, including a 70 percent reduction in bleeding. Patients don’t need complete bed rest, compression or artificial closure devices after the procedure.

They are often discharged from the hospital earlier and return to normal activities much sooner than with femoral catheterization.  

Springs Memorial Hospital has offered the procedure since last July and Patel estimated that 50 to 100 patients have received it since then.

It has been performed in other countries for several years, but is relatively new in the United States, Patel said.

Many doctors use the radial procedure as a last option, mainly because they are less familiar with it, Patel said.

“Doctors get set in their ways,” Patel said. “It’s a very different procedure and you have to practice it and perform about 60 before you’re comfortable with it.”

Contact senior reporter Jenny Arnold at jarnold@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151