Should Technical and Anatomical Difficulties Discourage Operators from Embarking on Transradial Access for Percutaneous Coronary Intervention?

Sandeep Basavarajaiah, Adam Brown, Toru Naganuma, Parag Gajendragadkar, Liam McCormick, Nick West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Use of the radial approach for PCI procedures is increasing due to lower rates of access-site complications/bleeding, and patient preference. However, femoral operators switching may be discouraged by the learning curve and by anatomical issues that may complicate the procedure. We aimed to define the frequency of anatomic variants and success rates during transradial access for PCI. Methods. We retrospectively analyzed 2588 cases of PCI attempted by the radial route; radial/brachial and subclavian angiography was performed when obstructions were encountered. Presence of anatomical variants, spasm, and ability to complete the procedure were noted. Results. Radial procedures were successfully completed in 2741/2588 cases (98.2%); in the remainder, switching to femoral approach was necessary. Local arteriography was performed in 221/2588 cases (8.5%) due to difficulties encountered; of these, 131/221 difficulties (59%) were due to problems at the radial arterial level, 58/221 (26%) were due to problems at the subclavian level, and 32/221 (15%) were due to problems at brachial arterial sites. Extreme radial tortuosity (18%) and radial loop (20%) had relatively lower rates of success followed by subclavian tortuosity (73%). Females had significantly higher incidences of radial spasm (6% vs 1.9% in men; P<.001), radial tortuosity (3.4% vs 1.7% in men; P=.01), and subclavian tortuosity (3.8% vs 1.8% in men; P<.01). Conclusion. Inability to successfully complete invasive procedures via the radial approach is uncommon. Even when encountered, most difficulties can be overcome with the use of vasodilators and hydrophilic wires. These data provide reassurance for would-be radial converts that the learning curve may not be as steep as envisaged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-347
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Invasive Cardiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • complications
  • radial spasm

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