Acute Upper-Limb Complications Following Radial Artery Catheterization for Coronary Angiography



The radial artery is becoming the vessel of choice for performing cardiac catheterization. Transradial catheterization can impose risks on the upper extremity, and hand surgeons should be aware of the most frequent complications. The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency, timing, and scope of upper-limb complications shortly after transradial catheterization.


A retrospective review was conducted of the medical records of patients who underwent catheterization between 2009 and 2016. Complications were assessed for up to 60 days. The Cox model was used to assess risk factors for complications.


A total of 10,540 patients were included in the analysis (68.5% male), median age 67 years. There were 79 patients who experienced at least one complication within 60 days (0.84% of procedures; 95% confidence interval, 0.65% to 1.02%). The most common complications were hematoma (n = 39) and radial artery occlusion (n = 28). Other complications included pseudoaneurysm (n = 7), arteriovenous fistula (n = 3), carpal tunnel syndrome (n = 4), arterial perforation (n = 3), persistent vasospasm (n = 2), and compartment syndrome (n = 1). The complications were diagnosed a median of 1 day after catheterization. Female sex was at increased risk for developing a complication. Diabetes, age, body mass index, and catheter size were not associated with an increased risk for developing a complication. Ten patients underwent surgical management of a complication. Reasons for surgery included symptomatic radial artery occlusions, pseudoaneurysm formation, arteriovenous fistulas, and compartment syndrome. No identifiable risk factors were associated with patients who underwent surgical intervention.


The frequency of upper-limb complications after radial artery catheterization is small. They include arterial occlusion, bleeding, compartment syndrome, arteriovenous fistula, and pseudoaneurysm. Most complications presented within 1 week of the procedure and occurred more frequently in the female sex. Operative management of complications was infrequent.

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Harvey JA, et al. J Hand Surg Am 2020 (Epub ahead of print).