What are the routes of access used in percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)?

Updated: Nov 27, 2019
  • Author: George A Stouffer, III, MD; Chief Editor: Karlheinz Peter, MD, PhD  more...
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Coronary angiography and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) are more commonly performed via the femoral or the radial artery and less commonly performed via the brachial or ulnar artery. Overall, the femoral artery is the most common route of access for these procedures in the United States; however, the use of radial access is increasing. In selected labs in the United States and in some parts of Europe, radial artery access exceeds 90%.

Two randomized, controlled trials reported equal or better outcomes with transradial access than with femoral access in ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) patients undergoing PCI. In the RIFLE STEACS (Radial Versus Femoral Randomized Investigation in ST-Elevation Acute Coronary Syndrome) study, a multicenter randomized trial involving 1001 STEMI patients, radial access was associated with significantly lower rates of cardiac mortality (5.2% vs 9.2%) and bleeding (7.8% vs 12.2%) than femoral access was. [83]

The RIVAL (Radial Versus Femoral Access for Coronary Intervention) trial compared the efficacy and bleeding outcomes of radial and femoral access separately in patients with STEMI and non-STEMI (NSTEMI). [84] Radial access was associated with reduced all-cause mortality (1.3% vs 3.2%) and reduced death/myocardial infarction (MI)/stroke (2.7% vs 4.6%) in STEMI patients but not in NSTEMI patients. In both STEMI and NSTEMI groups, radial access was associated with significantly reduced ACUITY major bleeding and major vascular access site complications.

The MATRIX trial compared outcomes of radial access with those of femoral access in 8404 patients with acute coronary syndrome. [85] The radial group had lower all-cause mortality as well as Bleeding Academic Research Consortium (BARC) major bleeding unrelated to coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).

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