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How Long Does It Take to Recover from A Transradial Heart Catheterization?

Is transradial cardiac catheterization painful?

Transradial cardiac catheterization is performed using local anesthesia, and may take an hour or more, depending on the procedure performed. The patient usually feels nothing more than a short stinging pain from the initial numbing injection. The patient will be administered painkillers and mild sedation before the procedure. There might be a certain amount of post-procedural soreness that can be resolved with painkillers.

How is a transradial cardiac catheterization performed?

A transradial cardiac catheterization is performed by a specially trained interventional cardiovascular physician. The catheterization may be performed through the left or right radial artery, though it is done mostly through the right side.


The patient may be required to

  • Undergo blood tests
  • Undergo cardiac radiography tests such as
  • Chest X-ray
  • echocardiography
  • electrocardiography
  • Avoid eating or drinking for eight hours prior to the procedure
  • Inform the doctor of any allergies
  • Inform the doctor if pregnant
  • Check with the doctor before taking any regular medications


The anesthesiologist

  • Administers painkillers and sedation through an IV line
  • Connects the patient to the electrocardiogram to monitor the heart’s electrical impulse
  • Monitors the patient’s vital functions including
  • The cardiologist
    • Evaluates the blood flow in the wrist and hand
    • Injects a local anesthetic in the wrist
    • Administers medications to prevent
    • Makes a tiny incision in the skin on the wrist
    • Punctures the radial artery and inserts the catheter using a guidewire
    • Gently advances the catheter through the artery towards the heart using ultrasound images for guidance
    • Injects a dye to scan the blood vessels through fluoroscopy
    • Performs the necessary procedure to identify and treat the disease
    • Withdraws the catheter back through the radial artery
    • Applies pressure on the insertion site to arrest bleeding, and places a bandage over it

How long does it take to recover from a transradial heart catheterization?

The patient is usually kept under observation for a few hours after the procedure. The patient’s vital signs will be monitored until they are stable and anesthetic effects wear off. Most patients will be able to go home the same day or the next.

Most people can resume light activities in a week. However, heavy lifting and strenuous activities must be avoided. Patients must have regular checkups to assess cardiovascular health. Some patients with a weakened system due to cardiovascular disease may have to make permanent changes in lifestyle and food habits.

What are the risks and complications of a transradial cardiac catheterization?

Transradial cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive procedure to diagnose and correct problems in a vital organ. The risks are low, considering it is usually a life-saving procedure.

Complications of transradial cardiac catheterization include

  • Radial artery spasm that can cause intense pain
  • Radial artery block (occlusion) resulting in deficient blood supply to hand (hand ischemia)
  • Allergic reaction to medications or dye material
  • Injury to
    • Heart
    • Lung
    • Blood vessels
    • Nerves
    • Lymphatic ducts
    • Nerves and blood vessels in the wrist
  • Bleeding and infection at the catheter insertion site
  • Blood clots which can cause a stroke
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Complications from treatment procedures performed

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