Background The perception of a steep learning curve associated with transradial access has resulted in its limited adoption in neurointervention despite the demonstrated benefits, including decreased access-site complications.
Objective To compare learning curves of transradial versus transfemoral diagnostic cerebral angiograms obtained by five neurovascular fellows as primary operator.
Methods The first 100–150 consecutive transradial and transfemoral angiographic scans performed by each fellow between July 2017 and March 2020 were identified. Mean fluoroscopy time per artery injected (angiographic efficiency) was calculated as a marker of technical proficiency and compared for every 25 consecutive procedures performed (eg, 1–25, 26–50, 51–75).
Results We identified 1242 diagnostic angiograms, 607 transradial and 635 transfemoral. The radial cohort was older (64.3 years vs 62.3 years, p=0.01) and demonstrated better angiographic efficiency (3.4 min/vessel vs 3.7 min/vessel, p=0.03). For three fellows without previous endovascular experience, proficiency was obtained between 25 and 50 transfemoral angiograms. One fellow achieved proficiency after performing 25–50 transradial angiograms; and the two other fellows, in <25 transradial angiograms. The two fellows with previous experience had flattened learning curves for both access types. Two patients experienced transient neurologic symptoms postprocedure. Transradial angiograms were associated with significantly fewer access-site complications (3/607, 0.5% vs 22/635, 3.5%, p<0.01). Radial-to-femoral conversion occurred in 1.2% (7/607); femoral-to-radial conversion occurred in 0.3% (2/635). Over time, the proportion of transradial angiographic procedures increased.
Conclusion Technical proficiency improved significantly over time for both access types, typically requiring between 25 and 50 diagnostic angiograms to achieve asymptomatic improvement in efficiency. Reduced access-site complications and decreased fluoroscopy time were benefits associated with transradial angiography.
Data availability statement
The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
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