Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnetic field to image the body and is known as the gold standard in diagnostic imaging. This non-invasive imaging technique can be used to diagnose several medical conditions because of its superior ability to visualize soft tissue. Currently, however, vascular interventions such as cardiac ablation, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA), and transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) rely on fluoroscopy (x-ray) as a means to visualize the procedure. These interventions use catheters constructed of metals such as stainless steel to allow flexibility and kink resistance. Unlike MRI, procedures using x-ray expose patients and clinicians to ionizing radiation. With the ever-increasing interest in the development of an MRI-compatible intravascular catheter, Zeus Industrial Products Inc. ("Zeus") recently announced the launch of their MRI-compatible LCP monofilament. This technology overcomes a significant limitation of other vascular visualization procedures and removes radiation exposure as a consequence. With exceptional tensile strength, LCP monofilament provides a safe braiding option for medical device manufactures aiming to capitalize on the benefits MRI provides to doctors and patients.

LCPs – liquid crystal polymers – are thermoplastic resins that exhibit unique properties. These materials have many distinctive and desirable traits including exceptional mechanical strength, heat tolerance for autoclaving, and chemical inertness. LCP materials have found favor in many high performance applications from automotive and aerospace parts to electronic and medical devices.

"Our proprietary extrusion process has produced a superior LCP monofilament with utilitarian properties for the medical device industry," says Emily Barnes, global market manager, CRM/EP at Zeus. "LCP monofilament has all of the significant properties of LCPs but also provides excellent torque response, pushability, and kink resistance." She goes on to note that because catheter based minimally invasive procedures have expanded into various medical disciplines, the potential applications for this LCP monofilament are broad. "Many of these applications where catheters are employed would benefit from our LCP monofilament" says Barnes.

LCP monofilament is easily braided with industry-standard equipment. The fiber likewise displays less fraying ("bird nesting") than comparable monofilament and multifilament fibers during the braiding process, resists kinking, and can be wound onto Steeger and Wardwell bobbins and DIN 160 spools. Class VI approved, LCP monofilament provides a means to eliminate metal catheter shafts; it is autoclavable and can be supplied with tight tolerances in customizable sizes and profiles.

LCP monofilament will have its official launch at MD&M Minneapolis, September 21-22. Barnes and others from Zeus will be on-hand at the conference to answer questions.