Article | February 17, 2021

Reducing The Surface Friction Of Medical Devices - A New Functional Application For A Commercial Biomaterials Surface Modification Technology

By Alexandra Piotrowicz, Manager of Product Development, Surface Modification, Evonik Health Care

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As the number of minimally invasive surgeries continues to grow, there is a need to design low-profile devices with optimal surface properties for easy insertion and trackability.  Devices such as introducer sheaths, delivery catheters, endoscopes, and neurovascular microcatheters come in contact with various bodily fluids and tissue, including skin, blood vessels, and the urinary tract.  The surface design of such devices should aim to minimize trauma during insertion and removal, reduce tissue inflammation, enable maneuverability through tortuous blood vessels, and improve patient comfort.  Furthermore, surface properties should promote smooth movement between certain device components, such as guidewires and delivery catheters, to achieve optimal device operation and performance.

Device engineers increasingly recognize that low surface friction is an important functional requirement for indwelling medical devices that must be considered during product design, development and testing. Low friction surfaces have traditionally been achieved via the application of hydrophilic or hydrophobic coatings, or co-extruded liners, that can provide varying degrees of surface slipperiness. Such approaches, however, can be associated with challenges relating to manufacturing, cost and durability, in addition to increasing the overall profile of the device.

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