How a Coaxial Alternative Could Make Way for Smaller Catheters

A recent breakthrough in the design of medical device cables is expected to enable a new generation of small, flexible, and intelligent catheters according to Japanese wire and cable supplier Junkosha.

Junkosha launched its Multi-Channel Transmission (MCT) at MD&M Minneapolis in late October. The new solution is expected to pave the way for new data-rich signals to be used in catheter-based therapies such as an intracardiac echocardiogram, ultrasound endoscopy, and intervascular ultrasound.

Junkosha Inc.

A recent breakthrough in the design of medical device cables is expected to enable a new generation of small, flexible, and intelligent catheters according to Japanese wire and cable supplier Junkosha.

The Tokyo, Japan-based supplier launched its Multi-Channel Transmission (MCT) at MD&M Minneapolis in late October. The new solution could challenge existing twisted pair coaxial and flexible printed circuit technology. Junkosha said MCT will enable new data-rich signals to be used in therapies such as an intracardiac echocardiogram, ultrasound endoscopy, and intervascular ultrasound (IVUS).

"What's happening these days is on applications like intervascular ultrasound or ultrasound endoscopy or intracardiac echocardiogram you're trying to send signals from the distal end of the catheter back through to the equipment," Joe Rowan, president and CEO of Junkosha's UK and U.S. businesses, told MD+DI at MD&M Minneapolis. "What we're offering is the best compromise between size and signal integrity."

Existing catheters use twisted pair coaxial constructs to support signals along the device. This established technology has driven advances in catheter design and facilitated the delivery of many essential interventional, intervascular diagnostics and therapies. However, both progress of miniaturization and flexibility has been hampered by the standard coaxial approach which comprises a core conductor, insulation, and a shield wire. Physics and electromagnetics have prevented the development of smaller cables and has inhibited catheter flexibility.

Rowan said medical device companies are wanting to develop catheters that are more data-driven and signal driven, and the MCT is designed to help enable that next generation of catheters because the MCT cable design uses a cluster of simple microwires that are individually insulated with an innovative shielding/grounding construct, therefore increasing its signal capacity for a given size. 

Traditional catheters require four coaxial cables to run in parallel carrying four individual signal streams, but the MCT solution enables multiples of four signals to be brought together in one cable, therefore quadrupling the capacity. The benefits of this innovation are additionally demonstrated in the reduced size of the catheter that is delivered.

Early Junkosha prototypes have achieved a crucial 32% reduction in the size of the cable, a critical factor in the attainment of future procedures within narrower vessels. The MCT approach also provides a greater degree of flexibility compared to the existing approaches which promises major advances in the scope of medical procedures, especially within endoscopy, Junkosha said. Overall, this innovation addresses the mutually exclusive needs of small size and signal integrity simultaneously. This in turn unlocks opportunities for catheter manufacturers to deliver valuable, previously unrealized options to clinicians, according to the company.

“As the requirement for smaller and smaller procedurues increases through therapies like an intracardiac echocardiogram, ultrasound endoscopy and IVUS, so the need for innovations such as our MCT solution become paramount to enable them,” said Yohei Washiyama, leader of Junkosha’s Medical Products Group. “We are continually pushing the boundaries of what is possible in this journey to miniaturisation, all the while unlocking opportunities for catheter manufacturers to deliver improved solutions.”

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