Transradial Cardiac Catheterization | MedStar Health
Close up photo of a patient's wrist undergoing a  transradial catheterization procedure.

Accessing the heart through a blood vessel in the wrist

Transradial catheterization is a form of cardiac catheterization in which doctors use the radial artery, located in the wrist, as a pathway to diagnose and treat many conditions, including coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease. The advantages of the procedure include:

  • Faster recovery

  • Less pain

  • Less risk of bleeding

Our Interventional Cardiology Program is a national leader in this technique, and the doctors at MedStar Health use it in 80 percent or more of their cases — double the national average. Patients can recover in the hospital’s dedicated Radial Recovery Lounge after their procedures.

What to expect from transradial catheterization

You will most likely be awake for the procedure, and will receive medication to help you relax and to numb the wrist area. Your doctor will place a small catheter in your radial artery and insert a guide wire. The doctor will thread the guide wire through your blood vessels until it reaches the correct area of your heart.

Next, the doctor will place a thin, flexible tube called a catheter over the guide wire and thread it to the same spot before removing the wire. The catheter will carry tools or medications that the doctor will use. After the procedure is done, the doctor will remove the catheter from your wrist.

Afterward, you’ll wear a wristband that will keep pressure on your wrist. You’ll be able to sit up and walk around right away. Most patients are able to go home the same day, though someone will need to drive you.


A team of surgeons in a cardiac catheterization lab at MedStar Health


Coarctation of the Aorta

Coarctation of the aorta is a narrowing of the aorta, the body’s largest artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease in the United States.

Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction (MI), requires emergency medical attention. A heart attack happens when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked.

Kawasaki Disease

Kawasaki disease is a rare condition that causes inflammation of the blood vessels and can result in heart disease.

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when blood flow to the arms and legs is reduced due to narrowed or blocked arteries.


Angiogram (Angiography)

An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets, and computer technology used to create images of your heart and blood vessels.

Pulse Volume Recording

Pulse volume recording tests are used to evaluate blood flow through the arteries in your arms or legs.

Stress Tests

Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms and chemically induced stress tests.

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Our locations

Distance from Change locationEnter your location

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7503 Surratts Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

9000 Franklin Square Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr.
Olney, MD 20832

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC, 20007

Additional information

Interventional cardiology program

We have one of the highest volume heart catheterization programs in the mid-Atlantic region, averaging nearly 12,000 procedures annually.

Ask MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

Have general questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at If you have clinically-specific questions, please contact your physician’s office.