Next generation catheters: The trends shaping the future of catheter design

By Matt Allen, Senior Product Manager

Following COMPAMED 2019 in Dusseldorf, Matt Allen, Zeus’ Senior Product Manager, discusses the challenges facing catheter design today. Here’s his take on the exciting advances overcoming current obstacles, plus innovations coming down the line and what that means for future treatments.

Current catheter challenges

Innovative and life-saving therapies are continuously being developed by medical device R&D teams across the globe. From clot busting drugs, embolics, and drug eluding stents to absorbable scaffolds, it’s inspiring to see that treatments are becoming more advanced than ever before.

With these advancements, we’re also seeing that therapies and treatments can sometimes be physically larger in size. Successfully condensing a large therapy down to a profile that can be safely delivered deep in the vasculature via a catheter is a major challenge.

Not only are some therapies and treatments getting bigger, but as medical science progresses, the areas of the body we are trying to reach are smaller and more torturous. It’s awe-inspiring that medical advances mean we can now use catheters to reach further into delicate areas such as the brain and below the knee – but getting this far into the body safely comes with its own set of challenges – and the need for softer, more flexible, thinner components is crucial.

Design engineers need a range of tools and materials at their disposal to be able to develop new catheters that can overcome these challenges.

A pipeline of ideas

We want to equip engineers with the solutions they need to create these next generation catheters. That’s why I’m enthusiastic about our pipeline of innovative products, which I believe will help shape the future of the medical device industry.

One of the many innovations I discuss in the video is our StreamLiner™ series. This is our thinnest catheter liner yet, allowing for a reduced catheter profile. We’re already working on the next generation of StreamLiner™ over the wire (OTW) products, which are even thinner, softer and more flexible – this will give design engineers the ability to develop new catheters they can’t create today.

Our Tie Layer is another example. The Tie Layer provides extra adhesion that reduces delamination and allows your catheter to track more easily to ever more intricate areas of the body. By engineering a catheter that can withstand more vigorous turns and bends, it’s possible to navigate deeper inside the body, providing the vital therapy the patient needs with less risk.

Facilitating transformative technologies

StreamLiner™ and Tie Layer are examples of what we’re working on today, but a big opportunity I see for the future is in the area of imaging. More advanced imaging will be transformative for the healthcare sector – allowing doctors to see, identify, diagnose and treat patients more quickly, accurately and efficiently.

This will be driven by enhanced imaging technology, but also by the emergence of ‘smart catheters’ using Artificial Intelligence.

Right now, there are sensors (some available now, and some in development) that are small enough to fit in a catheter. Coupling this with robotics and AI could facilitate a new generation of catheters and treatment options that are safer and more reliable. This ultimately translates to fewer complications, risks and reductions in healthcare costs.

These are disparate technologies that are being progressed independently – marrying up these concepts could be transformative for the medical device industry.

Engineering possibilities

At this moment, design engineers have restricted choices when building catheters. Providing more options means they can develop new product designs and apply components in a way that’s never been done before – which could yield incredible results.

In this short video, filmed at COMPAMED, I take a deeper dive into these challenges and explore some of the exciting innovations in development.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions. Feel free to connect and chat here.

Author: Matt Allen, Senior Product Manager

For almost two decades, Matt has been involved in helping Zeus’ customers drive innovation and develop new and improved technologies for the medical industry.

Known for his solutions-based approach, Matt is a highly respected business leader and product management expert in the medical devices space. He is most celebrated for his deep knowledge of the cardiovascular, peripheral and neurovascular markets.