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Zulekha Hospital performs unique snuffbox surgery

SHARJAH: Zulekha Hospital has recently performed coronary intervention using radial artery access through the snuffbox area on the back of the hand. This unique cardiac catheterization procedure is used to diagnose and treat heart conditions without an invasive procedure and this is one of the first times the procedure has been performed in the UAE. This comes in line with the healthcare group’s commitment to supporting the UAE’s Vision 2021 to build a world-class healthcare system.

The patient was admitted to Zulekha Hospital with a pain in his chest and showed all the risk factors for coronary heart diseases. Stress tests were taken and the results showed positive for lack of oxygen supply to the heart. The patient was admitted for an elective coronary angiogram (a special test to show blocked arteries) and the results showed two blood vessels narrowing. Intervention was needed and this was completed using the distal radial access through the snuffbox where two stents were implanted in the heart.

The Snuffbox is an area on the hand, in between the tendon of two muscles that controls the movement of the thumb. This area is unique as it has a dip and is where a radial artery is located. By going through this artery, doctors can perform a cardiac catheterization.

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure used to diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions by inserting a long thin tube called a catheter into the artery through the arm or hand. Here, doctors can then complete diagnostic and therapeutic tests for heart disease management, such as coronary angioplasty. Usually, patients are awake during cardiac catheterization, but given medications to help them relax. Recovery time for a cardiac catheterization is quick with low risk of complications.

By operating through the patient’s snuffbox and puncturing the radial artery, this guarantees blood flow to the hand during the procedure. There is also a very low chance to damage the hand as the uniqueness of the distal radial technique is that the bleeding is much easier to control after the procedure.

“The time taken for the procedure varies from patient to patient but also depends on the severity of the disease. We are one of the first hospitals in the UAE to use this method and it is a milestone in the field of research – we are always innovating to ensure we provide the best procedures for our patients in line with the country’s vision to develop a world class healthcare system by 2021.” said Dr. Waleed Kadro, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist.

This is a very safe procedure and there is no danger in puncturing another artery. The procedure is more comfortable as the patient can relax their hand on the side without full extension of the arm unlike the conventional radial artery approach where the patient must extend the arm fully which can cause discomfort.

The patient is now feeling much better and is no longer facing issues with his heart or his hand. The patient said: “The procedure took only twelve minutes and caused me no discomfort or hindered changes to my lifestyle. My hand is feeling normal and my chest no longer causes pain and this is with thanks to the skilful doctors at Zulekha Hospital who are using modern procedures”.