An Introduction to Steerable Catheter Design and Manufacturing

Mar 8, 2023

Steerable catheters have revolutionized the field of minimally invasive surgery. Offering surgeons a more precise and controlled approach to navigating complex anatomical structures, steerable catheters are enabling clinicians to perform increasingly intricate medical procedures with greater accuracy and less invasiveness.

The adjustable tips on the end of these specialized catheters allow them to be maneuvered to target specific tissue or organs within the body, allowing for accurate manipulation of surgical instruments in tight spaces, such as within vessels and other narrow cavities. With their broad array of applications, from diagnostic imaging to therapeutic intervention, steerable catheters are proving invaluable tools for surgeons striving for safe and successful operations.

Engineering the most advanced steerable catheters, we have the privilege of collaborating with some of the leading device manufacturers in the world to provide improved minimally invasive surgical solutions.

Steerable Catheter Applications

Steerable catheters are designed to be navigated through the body’s natural pathways to reach specific areas that may be difficult to access with traditional medical instruments. These devices are equipped with flexible tips that can be directed to different angles and steered in different directions. Often, advanced sensors and imaging technologies are utilized to provide physicians with real-time feedback on the catheter location, allowing for greater precision and control during procedures for precise targeting of specific areas of the body for diagnosis or treatment.

There is a wide range of potential applications for steerable catheters in the medical field. Some of the most common applications include:

Cardiovascular procedures 

Steerable catheters can be used to perform a wide range of cardiovascular procedures, including angiograms, stent placements, and heart valve replacements. These devices can be directed through the arteries and veins to reach the heart and other areas of the cardiovascular system, allowing for minimally invasive procedures that can greatly reduce recovery times and patient trauma.

Gastrointestinal procedures

Steerable catheters can be used to perform a variety of gastrointestinal procedures, including colonoscopies, biopsies, and polyp removals. These devices can be directed through the gastrointestinal tract to reach specific areas of the colon or other organs, allowing for more precise diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders.

Respiratory procedures

Steerable catheters can also be used to perform respiratory procedures, including bronchoscopies and lung biopsies. These devices can be directed through the airways to reach specific areas of the lungs, allowing for more accurate diagnosis and treatment of respiratory diseases.

Neurological procedures 

Steerable catheters can be used in a variety of neurological procedures, including the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors, aneurysms, and other neurological disorders. These devices can be directed through the blood vessels in the brain to reach specific areas, allowing for minimally invasive procedures that can greatly reduce the risk of complications.

The potential applications of steerable catheters in the medical field are vast and varied, offering medical professionals a powerful tool for diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions with greater precision and accuracy.

10 key performance characteristics of steerable catheters

Steerable catheters enable control and precision during a wide range of medical procedures. When designing and developing steerable catheters, a number of key performance characteristics must be taken into account to ensure optimal functionality and safety. Selecting the right materials and understanding their mechanical properties is also crucial. The materials used in the construction of a steerable catheter can impact its performance characteristics, such as flexibility, lubricity, kink resistance, and torque transmission.

Below, we will explore some of the most important performance characteristics of steerable catheters and the ability to not interfere with the sensor’s integrated circuits. 

    • Steerability The ability to steer the catheter in different directions and angles with precision.
    • Flexibility The flexibility of the catheter is important in allowing it to navigate through complex anatomical structures.
    • Torque transmission The ability of the catheter to transmit torque accurately and efficiently from the handle to the distal tip is important in achieving precise control over the catheter movements.
    • Tip control The ability to control the tip of the catheter and position it accurately is critical in ensuring safe and effective performance.
    • Trackability The ability of the catheter to navigate through tortuous anatomy or vessels while maintaining its position and direction.
    • Pushability The ability of the catheter to push through resistance or resistance to allow for advancement or delivery of devices.
    • Biocompatibility The catheter materials and coatings should be biocompatible to prevent adverse reactions or damage to the surrounding tissue.
    • Lubricity The lubricity of the catheter surface can affect its ability to move smoothly and easily through the body. A catheter with high lubricity will encounter less resistance as it moves through the body, which can help reduce trauma to the surrounding tissue and improve the overall performance of the catheter.
    • Kink resistance The kink resistance of the catheter is important in preventing the catheter from becoming tangled or deformed during use. A kink-resistant catheter will maintain its shape and function even when subjected to bending or twisting forces, which can help ensure the safety and effectiveness of the procedure.
    • Not interfering with the sensor’s integrated circuits When using a sensory catheter with integrated circuits, it’s important that the catheter materials and coatings do not interfere with the functionality of the sensors. This requires careful selection of materials that are non-conductive and do not produce electromagnetic interference, as well as precise design and manufacturing techniques to ensure that the catheter does not damage the sensors during use.


Extrusion for Tubing in Steerable Catheters

Tubing extrusion is a key manufacturing process used in the production of steerable catheters. During the extrusion process, a polymer material is melted and forced through a die to form a continuous tube. This tube can then be shaped and cut to the desired length to create the catheter.

In the case of steerable catheters, the extruded tubing may be reinforced with a metal braid or wire to provide additional strength and stiffness. The tubing may also be coated with lubricious materials to improve its surface properties and enhance its navigability through the body.

To create a steerable catheter, the extruded tubing is typically coupled with a handle mechanism that allows the catheter to be manipulated and steered in different directions. The handle may include mechanisms for torque transmission, tip control, and other features that are critical for achieving precise control over the catheter movements.

Overall, tubing extrusion is a key step in the production of steerable catheters, enabling the creation of a flexible yet strong and precise tool that can be used in a wide range of medical procedures. The quality and precision of the extruded tubing are critical in ensuring the safety and efficacy of the catheter, and manufacturers must carefully control every aspect of the extrusion process to achieve the desired properties and performance characteristics.

Innovative Design and Steerable Catheter Assembly  

At Quasar Medical, we proudly stand among the few premier medical device contract manufacturing companies, providing our partners with both innovative design and assembly services for steerable catheters in-house.

In addition to offering extrusion capabilities, Quasar also provides sensor technology design and production. This is critical for steerable catheters that require integrated sensors to monitor position, pressure, or other parameters during use. By providing both sensor technology and catheter assembly services, we can ensure that the sensor integration is seamless and the catheter is optimized for performance.

Quasar’s mass complex micro-assembly capabilities are semi-automated, enabling efficient and consistent production of high-quality steerable catheters. This includes the ability to perform intricate assembly tasks, such as attaching metal braids or wires to the extruded tubing or integrating complex handle mechanisms for precise control over the catheter movements.

Our unique service for designing and assembling steerable catheters under one roof, combined with sensor technology and mass complex micro-assembly capabilities, provides medical device manufacturers with a comprehensive solution for creating high-quality, precise, and reliable steerable catheters for a wide range of medical applications.


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