Types of Balloon Cardiac Catheters

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Types of Balloon Cardiac Catheters
A balloon catheter is used to open a blocked artery. (surgery image by Andrey Rakhmatullin from Fotolia.com)

Balloon cardiac catheters improve or restore coronary blood flow. Doctors often use this type of coronary intervention to inhibit the effects of coronary artery disease where dangerous plaque build-up clogs arteries that supply blood to the heart. After placement with a guide wire, an inflatable balloon sits on the tip of the catheter and expands inside the artery to increase coronary circulation, allow for stent placement and deflates for removal after the artery is opened.

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Over-the-wire Balloon Catheter

An over-the-wire balloon catheter has two lumens: one for the guide wire and the other for balloon inflation. The guide wire exists independent of the balloon so two operators must perform the coronary procedure. A criticism of the over-the-wire catheter includes increased radiation exposure due to increased fluoroscopy time during balloon placement.

Monorail Balloon Catheter

Often called a sliding rail or rapid exchange catheter, a monorail balloon catheter guide wire passes through the balloon and runs through the guiding catheter. One operator can guide the monorail and use less procedural time and reduced fluoroscopy time to carry out balloon positioning compared to over-the-wire catheters.

Fixed-wire Balloon Catheter

Fixed-wire catheters are often referred to as on-the-wire systems because they come with a balloon mounted on a hollow wire with only one enclosed lumen for balloon inflation. The operator cannot send the guide wire ahead of the balloon and cannot exchange guide wires during the procedure. The fixed-wire catheter is the least obtrusive catheter system.

Perfusion Balloon Catheter

A subtype of an over-the-wire or monorail catheter, the perfusion balloon catheter has side holes for blood exchange during balloon inflation. This allows for longer inflation time without the side effect of chest pain. A perfusion balloon catheter is larger in diameter than other catheters and used for coronary perforation and abrupt artery closures that are stent-resistant.

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