Published: Apr 08, 2014 10:26 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Cardiologists at Lee Memorial Health System are performing a groundbreaking procedure that detects and can sometimes treat heart disease all through the wrist.

John Browning had the radial heart catheterization done five weeks ago and he says all that's left is a tiny pink dot on his wrist where the catheter went in. "It turned out to be not only pain free but really discomfort free," he says.


Cardiologists say the procedure's popularity is growing fast. It puts a catheter through an artery in the wrist instead of the groin to look for signs of blockages or heart disease.

Dr. Richard Chazal, Heart and Vascular Institute Medical Director says, "studies have shown a reduction in the risk of complications, particularily bleeding, that's really important for an individual patient because they are more comfortable generally and they can get out of the hospital more rapidly."

He says improved equipment allows doctors across the country and in Southwest Florida to perform the procedure more often. And it also saves money in the long run. "Anytime we can shorten the length of stay and reduce the risk of complication, there are savings to the system and savings to insurance and all of us," he says.

And patients say they feel those benfits. Dr. Richard Davis had the procedure seven weeks ago. He says, "when I heard oh they can do this through the wrist? It was a nice revelation to me, the procedure was fairly innocuous in my opinion."

John Browning adds, "if you have a choice between the two locations, I can't see there being a choice."

Doctors say the radial procedure may not be right for everyone so be sure to talk to your cardiologist about what's best for you. They also say insurance coverage is the same for both procedures but could change if you go from outpatient to inpatient care.