Over the years, technology has made it easier and easier to allow doctors to access the brain.  We’ve moved from open brain surgery, to accessing the brain through the femoral artery in the groin area. 

Now, doctors at Sentara Martha Jefferson have taken it one step further, using the radial artery in the wrist to treat patients suffering from a stroke. 

“Literature is coming out now that says patients that get radial access have lower mortality, lower morbidly, they have less life-threatening bleeding and less life-threatening infections, so it’s a safer approach,” said Dr. John Gaughen, a neuro-interventionalist at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital.  

Gaughen says the technique is helpful for several reasons.  First, unlike in the leg, there’s more than one artery that runs to the hand. 

“Unlike the femoral artery which is the only blood vessel that runs to the leg, most people have at least two, sometimes three different blood vessels that run to the hand,” he noted. 

Additionally, Gaughen says bleeding can be more easily stopped in the wrist. “The wrist is a very hard, firm surface to get hemostasis, or to get the bleeding to stop.” 

This new access point also makes it easier, and in some cases quicker, to access certain parts of the brain.  That’s important, as time is muscle. 

And finally, patients recover better, as they are able to move around immediately after the procedure. “We’re always trying to find less invasive ways to do things,” said Gaughen. 

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