Heart Cath Through Wrist Now at Lane

Heart Cath Through Wrist Now at Lane

Sometime in the next few weeks, the cardiovascular unit at Lane Regional Medical Center will do its 10,000th heart catheterization.  The experience gained from seeing so many patients and the quality of its staff and facilities have helped give Lane Regional a reputation as a major provider of cardiovascular services in the capital region. Lane meets all the same national standards as much larger facilities in Baton Rouge.

Now Lane Regional has taken the lead with a new procedure that will have many advantages for patients — transradial cardiac catheterization.  Simply put, the cath is done using the transradial artery in the wrist instead of the femoral artery in the groin.

The advantages are fewer complications, less bleeding, and more comfort for the patient.

Before a heart cath, patients have to fast for at least 12 hours. Then after a heart cath using the groin, patients have to stay flat on their backs for six hours.  During this time, they can’t eat or get up to go to the restroom.

However, using the wrist allows the patient to sit up soon after the procedure, eat, and even walk to the bathroom.

Nationwide, 12 to 18 percent of all heart caths are done through the wrist, but at Lane Regional that number is more than 95 percent.

A heart cath can be used for a variety of diagnostic purposes as well as various treatments.

Rob Lawrence, Cath Lab manager, said transradial caths require team support and the team is very important.

Using the groin involves using the femoral artery, which is a large artery.  Using the wrist involves a much smaller artery, the transradial.  As a result, the tools used in transradial caths are much smaller.

Getting a cath begins much like an IV, because a needle is used to enter an artery. Then the sheath is moved all the way to the heart.

“Fluoroscopy, which is like a moving x-ray, allows the physician to observe the movements of the cath,” Lawrence said.  “We select each artery and look for blockages and irregularities.  From that, we determine how to proceed.  Without the imaging, none of this would be possible.  We would be flying blind.”

Lawrence said, “There is so much cutting edge technology in this area.  Every few months, there is a major advancement — a new tool or innovation.  Everyone is reading the literature and keeping up.  We also attend conferences to learn more.”

During a visit to the cath lab, the team was doing a transradial cath on a patient who had a heart attack three years ago.  The patient, 76-year-old James Graves, was reluctant to have bypass surgery.

Team members suited up with lead shields to protect their torso and thyroid areas.

The fluoroscope showed serious blockages. When the patient awoke, CIS interventional cardiologist Dr. Mrugesh Soni, told him, “The main artery on the left side needs a bypass, not a stent. It’s not an emergency to do right now.  But you need to consult with a surgeon.  This thing has been going on for a while.  I’m going to send you home, and you should see the surgeon in a few days.  The good news is, your pumping function is normal.”

Two of the cath lab techs, James Pierce and Micah Potts, are Central High graduates.  They said the work is very rewarding.

Lane Regional Medical Center is an Accredited Chest Pain Center, which means its Cardiovascular Center is efficient and effective.   Nationally, the average time from arrival at the hospital with a cardiac emergency until the start of a procedure is 90 minutes.   At Lane the time is only 45 to 60 minutes.  In addition, since most patients live in the region near the hospital, travel time is shorter.

Lane Regional is now building a second cath lab.  This will open the door for many additional services, including more lengthy vascular surgeries.

Lane Regional provides cath lab services 24/7, and a team of four is on call at all times.  For a tour of the facility or a physician referral, please call Lane Cardiovascular Center at 658-6765.

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