The transradial approach for coronary angiography and angioplasty offers potential advantages over the femoral approach that include early patient ambulation, a reduced length of stay and reduced procedural cost. While many patients enjoy the freedom of early mobility, a proportion will experience forearm discomfort, either when catheters are manipulated during the procedure, or at the end of the procedure when the radial arterial sheath is withdrawn. This discomfort is caused by radial artery spasm. Spasm is induced both by mechanical stimulation of the arterial wall by the catheter shaft and arterial sheath, and by high levels of circulating catecholamines, which are raised by anxiety and pain. This review will examine data that address the pros and cons of a radial approach, particularly with respect to how well patients tolerate the procedure, the causes of radial artery spasm, and questions relating to potential benefits in terms of procedural cost. sheaths were used discomfort was usually experienced only at the end of the procedure, during sheath removal. Six years ago, a group from Argentina 2 reported some provisional data comparing femoral, percutaneous brachial and radial routes. They found significantly more pain with the radial procedures than with either the femoral or percutaneous brachial. Nevertheless, there were much earlier times to walking and to discharge in both the radi-al and percutaneous brachial groups. Later, Cooper 3 also compared femoral versus radial diagnostic angiography in 200 patients. Quality of life was assessed by the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36-item health status question-naire (SF-36). Procedure-specific questions were assessed using 0–10 visual analogue scales. Pain at the access site and preference for catheterisation method were also assessed with a visual analogue scale. In contrast to previous studies, they found that the radial route was better tolerated on SF-36 questionnaires and visual analogue scales at one week. When all patients were asked which route they preferred, most strongly preferred the radial route and when the 44 to a cocktail of verapamil and nitroglycerine was compared with the response to papaverine. 5 Verapamil plus nitroglycerine led to a much more rapid onset of vasodilatation, with a more pro-longed duration of action.
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