The adoption of transradial coronary angiography and coronary intervention is growing because of emerging data on its potential advantages over the femoral approach. As the adoption of radial procedures increases, it is important to understand the remaining challenges of both the technique and its implementation. In this review, we discuss four important issues related to transradial procedures—radial access site bleeding, radial artery injury and occlusion, radiation exposure, and implementation of a successful transradial primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) programme. Although the radial artery is superficial and haemostasis can be achieved readily, access site bleeding can occur that, if left unchecked, can lead to forearm haematoma and, rarely, to compartment syndrome. Radial artery injury and occlusion are consequences of radial access, and randomized trials show that use of smaller diameter sheaths, adequate anticoagulation, and post-procedure ‘patent’ haemostasis reduce the risk of occlusion. The published literature demonstrates an association between transradial procedures and increased radiation exposure; therefore, reduction of radiation dosing during transradial procedures should be a priority for operators and catheterization laboratories. The potential reduction in mortality seen with transradial primary PCI must be balanced against the clinical imperative of timely reperfusion. Operators and catheterization laboratories should not begin a transradial primary PCI programme until sufficient radial experience has been gained in the elective setting. In addition, a protocol for femoral bailout should be considered to maintain door-to-reperfusion metrics.
Eur Heart J. 2012;33:2521-2526