Doctors use wrist for heart surgery

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WESTON, Fla. - Doctors are perfecting a technique that could make heart surgery faster and safer.

When Maurice Scapitano's doctors told him he needed surgery to clear blocked arteries to his heart, he dreaded the idea of a long hospital stay.

"I thought I'd be there a few days," he said.

Instead, Scapitano was in and out of the hospital within hours.

"It was easier than going to the dentist," he added.

Cleveland Clinic Florida cardiologist Dr. Howard Bush is following a growing trend of surgeons performing the procedure through an artery in the wrist rather than one in the groin.

"It's a much smaller artery," said Bush. "The risk of bleeding is basically zero and we have closure devices to the stop the bleeding once the procedure is over."

In many cases, patients can go home the same day.

"The advantage to the patient, the benefit to the hospital, is it's a more efficient utilization of resources," added Bush.

Bush believes heart surgeons will soon be using the wrist as an access point for a number of surgeries.

"I think we're going to see a whole new wave and the wrist may be a great access site," he said.

Only about five percent of surgeons in the U.S. utilize the wrist for cardiac stenting.

Patients must have good circulation in the wrist to be a candidate for that approach.

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