Radial Lounge

Radial Artery Catheterization & Radial Lounge

Radial artery for cardiac catheterization procedure is the use of the radial artery in the wrist as the entry point for the catheter. The cardiologist threads the thin catheter through the body’s network of arteries in the arm and into the chest, eventually reaching the heart. Doctors may also call this transradial access, the transradial approach or transradial angioplasty. The radial artery approach is safer for patients as it is associated with less bleeding and fewer complications compared to the femoral approach.

Before the procedure, the blood supply of the radial artery of the patient’s hand is assessed and other qualifying tests might be performed. There are two arteries (radial artery and ulnar artery) that supply blood to the hand. The catheterization procedure is safe to proceed, only if both arteries are working properly. This approach is not appropriate for patients who are extremely thin or have small or twisted arteries.

Potential Advantages to the Radial Artery Catheterization

  •  Minimal bleeding
  •  Less risk of nerve injury
  •  Lower rate of complications
  •  Faster recovery

Steps involved in radial artery catheterization:

  • A local anesthetic will be injected to the wrist to numb the area.
  • A small tube (sheath) is inserted into the radial artery.
  • Medications are given to help relax the radial artery.
  • Blood thinners are also administered to help prevent the formation of blood clots within the artery.
  • Then the catheters are moved through the tube and guided to the heart.

After the completion of the procedure, the catheters and tubes are removed from the radial artery.

The patient will then recover in the radial lounge until released. Often this recovery is two to three hours. The patient is advised to wear a compression device on the wrist, usually for two hours following the procedure. Patients are able to sit up and eat after the procedure and may resume their normal activities after 48 hours.


As with any medical procedure, there are some risks and complications. Possible risks and complications associated with radial artery catheterization include:

  • Although rare, spasms of the muscles lining the wall of the radial artery can occur.
  • Occlusion of the radial artery caused by blood clot formation within the artery may occur. This is usually harmless and may be prevented by using blood thinners.

Your doctor will determine if this is the right approach for your heart testing needs.
To learn more about West Tennessee Heart and Vascular Center, visit our Areas of Expertise and see our List of Services.

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