Dr. Barney Beaver, associate professor of internal medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and director of the USA Cardiac Catheterization Lab, is one of the few cardiologists in our region who routinely performs radial artery cardiac catheterizations.

This alternative approach provides the same results as the traditional method while offering many advantages for the patient.

“Most physicians only use the traditional procedure performed through the femoral artery at the groin, because that is the procedure they learned in their training,” said Dr. Beaver, who is an interventional cardiologist. “Approximately five percent of hospitals in the United States offer this alternative procedure, but the number is increasing. I have been performing radial artery catheterizations since the mid 90s.”

Cardiac catheterizations are performed to evaluate the coronary arteries for the presence of obstruction to blood flow. Without sufficient oxygenated blood flowing to the heart muscle, patients may experience chest pains or even experience a heart attack.

Traditionally, the entry point for a cardiac catheterization has been in the groin area through the femoral artery.

“A radial artery catheterization can be performed through the radial artery at the level of the wrist in most patients, however about five percent of individuals are not candidates due to unusual artery anatomy,” Dr. Beaver said.

Dr. Beaver listed some benefits of having a radial artery catheterization compared to the traditional femoral artery cardiac catheterization:

- Radial artery catheterizations significantly reduce the risk of bleeding complications
- Patients can ambulate immediately and go home within 2 ½ hours compared to waiting four to six hours while lying down in a bed after a femoral artery catheterization
- Patient modesty is maintained because patients do not have to worry about exposing their groin area
- The radial artery catheterization procedure can be less expensive

“This procedure can be the only access to a patient’s heart for those patients whose femoral arteries are completely blocked,” Dr. Beaver said. “If necessary, balloon angioplasty or stents can be implanted through the radial artery approach as well.”

To make an appointment with Dr. Beaver, call the USA Heart Center at (251) 445-8242.

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