St. Lukes Offers Alternative to Artery Surgery

By KBJR News 1

April 8, 2011 Updated Apr 8, 2011 at 6:43 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's Newscenter)---Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States according to the American Heart Association.

St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth is offering a new procedure in hopes of getting patients on the road to recovery more quickly.

There are two ways to perform an angiogram surgery, through the radial artery in the wrist or through the femoral artery in the leg.

Typically in the past, patients in need of an angiography underwent a femoral procedure, now there's a choice with radial artery access.

When the procedure was first created, the equipment was large and designed specifically for large arteries found in the leg.

"Years ago, people started to look at the radial artery because it is readily accessible and very compressible right here and generally in most people, it's a decent enough size, so that we can get in get out and cause very little damage," said Dr. Scott Mikesell.

Radial artery surgery is better for many patients because it has a shorter recovery time.

"Because if you get an angiogram through your leg, a lot of times what happens is you have to lay flat for a considerable amount of time," said Mikesell. "Anywhere from 2–10 hours. Patients don't like that."

Along with a quicker recovery, radial artery surgery has also proven to decrease the amount of bleeding during and after the procedure plus create less discomfort for patients.

Patients who undergo radial artery angiogram procedures often have blockages in their arteries caused by diets high in saturated fat, cardiovascular disease or hypertension.

"What we do is we take the circulation in the hand before we do the procedure to make sure that the candidate is a candidate for, to go through the procedure, but also, we monitor the circulation of the hand throughout the case," said Mikesell.

After surgery, patients spend recovery time on the cardiac unit.

"Once they've woken up from the moderate sedation, then they don't have to stay in bed on bed rest for 4–5 hours after the procedure," said Julie Clark, Nurse Manager. "They are able to, once they are awake and alert, and not dizzy or anything, they can sit up and move around and be ambulatory. Patients are going home much sooner after these procedures."

St. Luke's Hospital has been able to offer patients this alternative since October.

Good for the patient's pocketbook as well as their heart.

Written and posted to the web: Jennifer Walch