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Guidewire Innovation, from OTW to ‘233

Angioplasty is a minimally invasive medical procedure in which a balloon tipped catheter is introduced into the vasculature and advanced through the blood vessels to the site of a narrowed or totally occluded blood vessel. The balloon tipped catheter is positioned into the narrowed region of the vessel and then inflated. Expansion of the balloon mechanically widens the obstructed region, thereby restoring blood flow through the affected vessel.

In conventional, over-the-wire (OTW) angioplasty, the balloon catheter is loaded over a guidewire. Because the guidewire must traverse from the stenotic lesion in the patient through the entire length of the catheter shaft (which may be partly in the patient's body and partly exposed outside the body), guidewires can exceed 300 cm in length. Handling such a guidewire can be cumbersome, and it is easy for such a long, floppy guidewire to fall off the operating table onto the floor and become contaminated. During over-the-wire procedures, two people are often required just to handle the guidewire and keep it within the sterile field.

The ‘233 patent addresses this challenge by shortening the guidewire lumen in the angioplasty catheter. Instead of extending the entire length of the catheter, from distal tip to proximal end, the guidewire lumen extends from the distal tip of the catheter to a proximal exit port that is close to the catheter tip. The proximal exit port is therefore closer to the distal tip of the catheter than to the proximal end of the catheter, so the guidewire traverses only a length of about 10-30 cm in the catheter, as opposed to its entire length in OTW systems.

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