Oct 26, 2010 11:57 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Wrist stents cut heart surgery complications

Heart disease patients with severely blocked coronary arteries require emergency medical attention.

Doctors often insert tiny wire mesh tubes called stents to prop open those arteries, and they typically go through a large artery in the groin to get there.

It's an effective procedure that has a long safety record in the U.S., but it does come with an increased risk for bleeding, at least one night in the hospital, and an extended recovery.

But there is an option--getting to the heart through the wrist. "When we do this through the wrist, the risk for those major bleeding complications is reduced 70-80%," says Dr. Quinn Capers of the Ohio State University Medical Center.

The recovery can be much quicker. Patients can sit up immediately and some are able to go home the same day.

"Patients heal better when they're in a comfortable surrounding, when they're at home, they're relaxed," adds. Dr. Capers.

The wrist procedure has gained popularity over the past five years. Even so, the vast majority of stents are inserted the traditional way, through the groin.

"We as physicians are typically creatures of habit, and if we've had long-standing experience with one approach it's difficult to adopt another one," says Dr. Sahil Parikh of the UH Case Medical Center.

Even doctors who have adopted the wrist technique point out not every heart disease patient is a good candidate. "Patients should feel comfortable that their physician is making the best decision in their own hands for their specific case," Dr. Parikh says.

Either approach could be a lifesaver.


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