What is driving the fast growth of micro-lumen, thin-walled catheters and how to get the best performance for these devices?

in Sep 23, 2020

With the increasing demand for radial access procedures, the desire for ever smaller and thinner walled catheters are becoming prominent. In this week’s blog, the Hydromer® coating experts of these micro-devices will share our expertise about micro-lumen, thin-walled catheters or “micro-catheters”  and why they are so important to not only the human health industry but to animal health as well.

First, let us start with the typical polymeric materials these micro-catheters are made from: Polyether ether ketone (PEEK), Polyethylenimine (PEI), Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), Fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP), etc., which are all essentially synthetic polymers and co-polymers. PEEK is a very stiff, high-performance polymer known for its strength. PEI is a high-performance polymer that can be easily sterilized. PTFE is a fluorinated polymer that can have a very low friction coefficient; and lastly, FEP is known to be a more chemical resistant polymer also with lower friction. PTFE and FEP are very similar in nature, but FEP is known to be a bit more formable that PTFE. PEEK and PEI are also very similar in nature and can be great alternatives to each other. Though these polymers are very similar in makeup, the smallest nuances of each provide a very different application use.

So, let us continue with applications for these micro-catheters. Since we said earlier that all these thermoplastics are similar with minor features being different, we can assume they would be used in the same ways, just with different applications. Due to the ability of micro-lumen catheters to be the size of a needle loop, the incision point and the invasiveness of large catheters that were once very painful, has been significantly reduced. These catheters are used in humans and animals alike for small vessel or diagnostic procedures. Some micro-catheters even have balloons attached to them that can deliver drugs and cut off the blood supply to tumors, which in turn can kill the tumor! Pretty neat huh? These devices can go through very tiny blood vessels. The PEEK and PEI applications would consist of catheters that need to be stiff and strong enough to push a guidewire through without tearing or catching the material. The PTFE and FEP would most likely be used to deliver drugs intravenously since the material is softer and more flexible. Whether it is a woman going in for surgery or a puppy being neutered, a smaller outer and inner diameter catheter will be much easier on the patient’s recovery. For the guidewire micro-catheters, consider someone that may have a heart valve blockage, the guidewire and micro-catheter would assist with clearing the pathway for further procedures. With the use of these micro-lumen catheters these devices are causing less scarring and a much quicker recovery time for patients.

After all the information we have provided today, what really makes these micro-catheters slip and slide with ease through small vessels, without causing harm to its host? Well, Hydromer® Hydrophilic Coatings for medical devices gives our clients an edge over their competitors, to reach further and faster, than other micro-catheters on the market.  As the subject matter experts, our team of specialists know the ins and outs of everything micro-lumen. Our coatings on micro-catheters pass our customers’ requirements with flying colors, including low coefficient of friction, low particulates, excellent hydrophilicity, and many other aspects such as low thrombogenicity, antimicrobial etc., and the care that our team has with you and your medical devices is second to none.