• Wrist or Groin? Risks and Benefits of Femoral versus Transradial Angioplasty and Stenting

    If you are treated with angioplasty and stenting, the catheter used to open a block or narrowed artery, and in some cases to place a stent, is inserted in one of two arteries - the femoral, which is in the groin area, or the radial artery, which is in the wrist. Angioplasty performed from the radial artery is also called transradial angioplasty.

    Both approaches are considered safe and effective for most patients in most circumstances. However, as with any medical procedure, the best approach is largely dependent on your unique medical and personal circumstances.

    Wrist versus Groin at a Glance

    Femoral Angioplasty



    Long history of success - first used in 1960s Must lie flat for 4 to 6 hours after procedure
    More doctors trained and experienced in this approach Lengthy compression process that requires a nurse
    Better for patients with extensive peripheral artery disease (PAD) Risk of bleeding
      It can be difficult to reach the artery to perform the procedure and, if necessary, stop any bleeding, especially if the patient is obese
      The femoral artery is the only source of blood to the leg

    Transradial/Radial Angioplasty



    History of success - first used in the 1980s The procedure is technically more difficult than the femoral approach because the radial artery is smaller
    Reduces risk of bleeding - important consideration for women, elderly and people taking blood-thinning medications Not as many doctors are trained and experienced with this approach
    Less discomfort  
    Do not have to lie flat for hours  
    Can move around as soon as effects of anesthesia allow it  
    Can eat and drink soon after the procedure  
    The radial artery is not the only source of blood to the hand  

    As the equipment used for angioplasty and stenting has become smaller, and doctors have gained the training and experience to handle the more challenging technical aspects of working with the smaller artery in the wrist, the transradial approach is becoming the first choice approach for many doctors and patients.

    Talk with your doctor to decide which access location is right for you. And, if you do decide that the transradial approach is right for you, make sure your doctor has plenty of experience doing it before giving your consent. Ask your doctor how long he’s been performing transradial procedures and how many of these he or she performs each year.

    Learn More

    Click here for more information about the risks and benefits of angioplasty and stenting, including the insertion of the catheter.