When Cedarburg resident David Hoerz started feeling light-headed and dizzy on Easter Sunday of 2011, he didn’t know whether or not to be concerned. Hoerz had experienced a mild heart attack several years earlier, in 2000, and at that time he had felt as if there was “an elephant” on his chest. This time, however, Hoerz had no chest pain and was able to rest and relax to the point his symptoms subsided.
Wanting to be safe rather than sorry, Hoerz called his doctor the following morning. He was told to go straight to the emergency department at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee.
The medical staff at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee fully evaluated Hoerz’s condition, and an X-ray revealed that the artery on the back on his heart was obstructed. Hoerz would need a cardiac catheterization procedure to remove the blockage.
Hoerz had undergone cardiac catheterization through the femoral artery in his groin after his heart attack in 2000. He knew from this experience that a femoral catheterization would result in long, uncomfortable recovery. The femoral artery is located deep in the groin and, because of this, following the procedure, 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.
After his catheterization in 2000, Hoerz was required to stay overnight in the hospital and remain virtually motionless for twelve hours with heavy weights on his body. Once he was discharged from the hospital, Hoerz’s activity was strictly limited for a number of days. The discomfort and lack of activity were difficult for Hoerz, who is an avid golfer. He was anxious to get back on the course and frustrated by the long recovery
In 2011, however, Hoerz had a new type of cardiac catheterization: transradial catheterization. With this new procedure, 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 Columbia St. Mary’s,” said Dr. Robert Roth, medical director of cardiographics at Columbia St. Mary’s.
Hoerz says 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.” he said.
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. In addition, because the incision site was in the wrist rather than the groin, Hoerz was able to get out of bed and walk around just hours after the transradial procedure.
Today, Hoerz’s heart is beating normally and he doesn’t even have any scarring on his wrist where the catheter was inserted. Scarring wasn’t Hoerz’s biggest worry, though. “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.”
Hoerz now says these worries were completely unfounded. Not only was he able to play golf less than a week after his transradial catheterization, he was able to play his usual game completely pain-free.
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 it I was able to just get up and walk away. Now I feel great!”