With a plethora of benefits, minimally invasive surgeries have revolutionised the treatment of vascular diseases. These procedures are commonly utilised to provide alternatives to invasive, open surgeries in a variety of crucial areas, from repairing blocked or narrowed arteries with peripheral angioplasty to transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) which treats aortic valve stenosis. For many patients, these minimally invasive surgeries produce results which are comparable to their invasive alternatives but at a lower cost.

Minimally invasive vascular surgeries rely heavily on catheters and guidewires in combination with a high degree of technical ability and surgical training. The benefits are three-fold: minimally invasive vascular surgeries can be used on a greater variety of patients, surgical trauma and risk is reduced, and recovery time is shorter.

1. Treat more patients

Right from the outset, minimally invasive vascular surgeries have better projections when it comes to patient recovery, enabling more patients to be treated through this method. Minimally invasive procedures are suitable for older and frailer individuals who either have a far greater mortality risk from invasive surgeries or are entirely ineligible for them. Medical research suggests that non-invasive procedures such as TAVI “may be as effective as surgery for people in whom surgery would be difficult or risky”. This is a consequence of what is perhaps the greatest benefit of minimally invasive surgical procedures: reduced surgical risk and trauma.

2. Reduced trauma

As the name of such procedures correctly identifies, minimally invasive surgeries avoid making large incisions in your body, opting instead for a small cut which is often unnoticeable post-op and reduces infection risk. Consequently, less strain is put on the patient’s body and often only local anaesthetic is needed. In operations such as a TAVI, surgeons can avoid the use of a heart-lung (bypass) machine. This directly correlates to minimised risk for patients, post-op cosmetic benefits and what is frequently described by patients as a ‘mostly painless’ procedure.

3. Quicker recoveries

With both minimised risk and physical strain comes reduced observation and recovery time. This is a general comparison which can be drawn between most minimally invasive vascular surgeries and their more intrusive alternatives. As an example, after a minimally invasive angioplasty you may require an overnight stay in the hospital, and only one week in recovery before you can resume ordinary daily activities such as work. A bypass in comparison usually requires a hospital stay of two to five days and a six-to-eight-week recovery.

The role of guidewires and catheters

Reaping the benefits of such a change in surgical practice has not been simple; minimally invasive vascular surgeries require guidewires and catheters which have undergone specific technical adaptations. For over 100 years, the two have been used side by side. Guidewires are used to steer central venous catheters to a target site of the vascular system. Wire components such as core wires and coils are central to the device’s ability to flex as it twists and turns through tortuous blood vessels and give structural support while simultaneously providing sufficient tactile feedback to the physician.

Wire components are integral to successful medical device R&D programs, but they are not simply universal. John Corsten, sales manager at Custom Wire Technologies (CWT) explains that “designers, more times than not, prefer specialised coils and core wires.” CWT is a leading innovator in the industry, offering custom coils and core wires.

Since lead times are so critical for R&D teams, CWT created the QwikCoil program, which offers lead times at one week for up to 20 custom coils. CWT is tackling the delays and technical failings which can be catastrophic to medical device R&D.

Guidewires have worked alongside catheters to produce the successful minimally invasive vascular surgeries available today. These components are here to stay. With decades of experience in providing integral, fast-paced technical support, CWT assists manufacturers and innovators of interventional cardiology devices.