Aims: to assess the outcomes, complications and limitations of coronary angiography performed via percutaneous radial artery puncture.
Methods and results: two hundred and fifty patients underwent diagnostic coronary angiography from the radial artery, 182 (72.8%) of whom had contraindications to the femoral approach, for example due to peripheral vascular disease (n=85), therapeutic anticoagulation (29), or failed femoral approach (17). Procedural success in this high-risk population was achieved in 231 patients (92.4%). Principle reasons for failure were unsuccessful radial access (5) and arterial spasm (5). Procedure duration (SD) for an operator's first 20 cases compared with cases thereafter (min) was 47.7 (16.7) vs. 41.5 (14.6), P=0.0004; fluoroscopy time (min) 9.7 (7.1) vs. 6.6 (5.1), P=0.0001 and procedural success 89.6% vs. 94.1%, P=ns. Complications included two deaths associated temporally with catheterisation, three cases of arterial dissection without ischaemic sequelae and one transient ischaemic attack.
Conclusions: coronary angiography can be performed successfully from the radial artery, but this approach has limitations, which include the need to demonstrate dual palmar vascular supply, the prolonged learning phase, the procedural failure rate, patient discomfort and a demonstrable incidence of vascular and haemodynamic complications. We believe that radial coronary angiography should only be undertaken when there is a contraindication to the femoral approach.