Micro-catheters are commonly found throughout the medical device and healthcare industries. With companies trying to develop and market products that meet the demanding needs of physicians and healthcare providers around the world, having the ability to efficiently design and manufacture an advanced device—such as a micro-catheter—is crucial to success. For this reason, we wanted to take this week to talk about the innovative field of micro-catheters and what companies should look for when selecting a micro-catheter supplier.
What are Micro-Catheters?
Micro-catheters, although a broad term, is often used to describe thin wall, small diameter catheters and delivery devices used in minimally invasive applications. These small catheters are ideal for navigating the vast network of tiny veins found within the body.
According to Craig Stowell, VP of Operations at Biomerics Advanced Catheter, “Micro-catheters used in cardiovascular applications generally run under 6 French (FR), while neurovascular micro-catheters can run as small as 2.3Fr.”
What procedures/applications are micro-catheters used in?
“Micro-catheters are employed extensively in the neurovascular and cardiovascular fields,” explained Craig. “They are most commonly used in small vessel or selective diagnostic and interventional procedures. When an application requires an ultra-thin device for delivery, diagnosis, or mapping, a micro-catheter will most likely be used.”
Micro-Catheters vs. Standard Catheters
When asked what the advantages and disadvantages are between micro-catheters and non-micro-catheters (“standard catheters”) Craig responded, “There are no advantages or disadvantages between the two. They both serve different purposes. Micro-catheters are simply used in selective applications where the anatomy would not be accessible via a standard catheter. Using a micro-catheter as a replacement for a PICC because it is smaller makes no sense—in fact, that would probably cause more harm than good.”
What obstacles do manufacturers typically encounter when producing micro-catheters?
“The micro-catheter manufacturing process is generally less forgiving of mistakes when compared to the manufacturing processes of other devices,” remarked Craig. “This is mainly due to the smaller outside diameters (ODs) and inside diameters (IDs) required by micro-catheters.
“The smaller IDs and ODs reduce the overall wall thickness of the device, which makes it challenging to achieve the pushability, trackability, and torqueability specifications required for the different applications. Because the wall thickness is dictated by the application requirements, the more components and capabilities that the micro-catheter requires, the higher the minimum OD will be. Designing and manufacturing an ultra-thin wall micro-catheter that meets the demands of the neurovascular and cardiovascular market is a difficult task that should only be undertaken by those with expertise and experience in the field.”
What should companies look for when choosing a micro-catheter contract manufacturer?
“When choosing a micro-catheter partner, the internal capabilities of the manufacturer should be taken into consideration,” explained Craig. “Ensuring that the manufacturer has all of the core competencies required to construct a micro-catheter from start to finish will not only provide you with the confidence that the company knows what it’s doing, it will also keep the ‘tweaking’ of the design from killing your profit margin and timelines. Internal braiding, extrusion, reflow, and molding capabilities, along with highly experienced production staff, are just a few essential things one should look for when selecting a micro-catheter contract manufacturer.”
How can Biomerics help with your next micro-catheter project?
Biomerics Advanced Catheter specializes in micro-catheter design and production. Using cross functional engineering teams and the latest manufacturing techniques and technologies, we partner with customer to develop and manufacture micro-catheters for the neurovascular and cardiovascular markets. With our experience and expertise, we help our customers commercialize groundbreaking micro-catheters and devices that reach areas of the human body that were previously inaccessible.