Patient Story

David’s Story: Transradial Catherization

January 15, 2019

David Hoerz is a heart patient at Ascension Columbia-St. Mary’s and credits his recovery to transradial catheterization and the heart care team.

In Cedarburg, Wisconsin, David Hoerz is a long-time heart patient of Robert Roth, MD. It’s been more than seven years since David has transradial catheterization to remove a blockage in his coronary artery. Heart attack symptoms are familiar to David. He had a heart attack in 2000 requiring emergency angioplasty at the hospital. “It felt like there was an elephant on my chest.” This time he felt light-headed and dizzy. It was Easter Sunday 2011.

He recalls not knowing whether to be concerned or not. This time he had no chest pain and was able to rest and relax until his symptoms went away. Wanting to be safe rather than sorry, he called his family doctor the following morning. They told him to go straight to the emergency department at Ascension Columbia-St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee in Mequon.

At the ER, an electrocardiogram revealed that the artery on the back on his heart was obstructed. David needed a cardiac catheterization procedure to remove the blockage.

He knew what to expect because in 2000 he had a cardiac catheterization. At that time, the interventional cardiologist navigated the catheter through a small incision in the femoral artery in his groin. From that experience, he knew this type of procedure meant a long, uncomfortable recovery. The femoral artery is located deep in the groin. A significant amount of pressure must be applied to the incision over an extended period to prevent bleeding and promote healing. This pressure is applied by placing weights over the incision site. In 2000, recovery included an overnight stay in the hospital and you must remain virtually motionless for 12 hours with heavy loads on your body. After discharge, activities are significantly restricted.

Hitting the Links After the Heart Procedure

This time, David wanted options. He is an avid golfer and leads an active life. He was anxious to get back on the course. The heart care team at Ascension Columbia-St. Mary’s recommended transradial catheterization. Instead of the catheter going through the femoral artery in the groin, it is passed through the radial artery of the wrist.

Transradial catheterizations increase patient comfort, minimize the risk of bleeding and allow patients to go home sooner, which is why they have become the preferred approach for cardiac catheterizations at Ascension Southeast Wisconsin’s Centers of Heart Care.

“Now year’s later, David is doing great,” says Robert Roth, MD, cardiologist.

David was playing golf less than a week later after the transradial catheterization procedure with his usual handicap, but now pain-free and feeling good.

David adds that there is no comparison between the femoral and transradial catheterization procedures. “The difference in the experiences was like night and day! With the transradial procedure, there was really no pain at all when the needle and catheter were inserted into my wrist. The recovery period was not difficult at all.”

Because the radial artery is smaller than the femoral artery and is located just below the skin’s surface, it is easier to apply pressure and stop the bleeding after the procedure. A small air pressure bandage is applied to the wrist. The pressure is gradually adjusted until the wound stops bleeding. Patients also like that the incision site is in the wrist rather than the groin, so they can get out of bed, use the restroom, and start walking.

Today, David doesn’t even have a scar on his wrist from the incision site. Honestly, scarring didn’t worry David but potentially missing out on golf did.  “Despite the doctors’ assurances, before my procedure I lost sleep because I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to play golf for several weeks. I also worried that, when I did play again, my golf game would be affected, and I’d be in pain.”

Not to worry. David was playing golf less than a week later after the procedure with his usual handicap, but now pain-free and feeling good.

David Hoerz recommends transradial catheterization without reservation. He says, “There’s no comparison. With transradial catheterization, I was in much less pain, recovered much more quickly, and felt as if I was able just to get up and walk away. Now I feel great.”

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