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Top 3 Design Considerations When It Comes to Balloon Catheters

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When it comes to catheters, the balloon catheter is a type that is often used in modern medical procedures. Balloon catheters are a kind of catheter with an inflatable balloon attached to its tip—which gives it its name.

The balloon comes to aid during the procedures of catheterization, helping to enlarge or narrow down the opening within the body it is attached to. In the procedures, when a deflated balloon catheter gets positioned, it is inflated afterward to perform the operation. In order to be removed, it has to be deflated again.

That wasn’t possible in regular catheters, though they have their usability intact. Balloon catheters have entirely changed the concept of the respective procedures. They also provide multiple benefits. For instance, the narrowing in the artery gets reduced, which results in improved blood flow. That has only become possible due to the deflation and inflation allowance provided by the attached balloon.

Types of Catheters

There are generally three types of catheters, each providing its unique competence for different applications.


The over-the-wire (OTW) catheter comes with a guidewire for tracking alongside the catheter’s full length.

Rapid Exchange

Rapid exchange (RE) catheter also has a guidewire, but it is not as short as about 25cm, which saves more time compared to the over-the-wire type.


Fixed-wire (FW) balloon catheter features a wire built inside its core, which eliminates the need of having a guidewire in the first place.

Apart from balloon catheter types, there also are different types of a balloon attached to each catheter, which is explained below.

Types of Balloon Catheters

There are three main types of balloons in balloon catheters:

Compliant (Elastomeric) – Volume-Based Balloons

Elastomeric or compliant balloons are inflated by volume. Since they are made of silicone or polyurethane, they can stretch from 100% to 800%. The elasticity is its main advantage. The applications of elastomeric balloon catheters involve the balloon to occlude the anatomy fully conform to it.

Semi-Compliant (Mid-Pressure)

Semi-compliant balloons, otherwise known as mid-pressure, are inflated with pressure rather than volume. They are usually made of higher-durometer or PEBAX (Polyether block amide, a thermoplastic elastomer).

As its name suggests, semi-compliant balloons are applicable to procedures that require a medium-high range of pressure. Apart from mid-high pressure, it provides more flexibility and ease of delivery.

Noncompliant (High-Pressure)

Noncompliant or high-pressure balloons are great for expansion applications. Its pressure range is high; however, it doesn’t provide more compliance than semi-compliant balloons. Noncompliant balloons are typically made of nylon or polyester.

The high pressure of this balloon provides more room for expansion. It can expand to a particular diameter and exert high pressure to dilate the vasculature or clear the blockage in the medical procedures.

Since there are three different types, it is vital that you decide which one you are going to get in order to understand the critical design considerations about the respective catheter.

For instance, if you are going for a noncompliant balloon catheter, compliance might not be a factor for you to consider. Similarly, if you are opting for a compliant balloon catheter, you wouldn’t consider pressure over volume. It is explained further in the article.

Applications of Balloon Catheters

In modern-day medical, balloon catheters are often used in angioplasty, balloon septostomy, cardiac catheterization. One prominent use is also tuboplasty, which gets done via uterine catheterization.

Other applications include renal denervation, balloon sinuplasty, balloon occlusion, atherectomy, balloon carpal tunnelplasty, stent delivery, esophageal dilation, atherectomy, kyphoplasty, drug delivery, cryoablation, and more.

Top 3 Considerations for Balloon Catheters

Although there are a lot of things to consider, such as performance requirements, characteristics, etc., we are going to keep it precise and tell you what is best to look for to keep the process easy and straightforward.

Some fundamental design properties that you should consider are the following:

Inflation/Deflation Time

Inflation and deflation are the elementary functions of any balloon catheter, but a thing to consider is the functions’ time. Inflation/deflation time refers to the exact time it takes to inflate the balloon—or deflate if we talk about removal.

In order to minimize the time, the catheter has to be designed to maximize the inflation lumen’s cross-sectional area. It is one of the essential design properties to consider.


Trackability, in terms of balloon catheters, is defined as the catheter’s ability to reach the treatment site after advancing through the anatomy. Whatever kind you are buying, it is best that you consider this factor for the optimum results of the catheter.

The factor of trackability becomes especially essential in the tortuous anatomy, for example, in neurological applications.

Smaller Insertion Profile

The insertion profile refers to the space that is needed to insert the catheter into the anatomy. The ideal process is to keep the incision site smaller, and that can happen if the insertion profile is smaller. The smaller insertion profile, keeping the smaller incision site, helps in expediting the patient’s recovery and healing process.

Interrelation Between the Factors

The consideration factors described above are not isolated; they are interrelated to each other. For example, if you want to minimize the deflation or inflation time, you can do it by increasing the tubing’s diameter. But it would eventually raise the insertion profile of the balloon catheter.

Similarly, if you want to decrease the insertion profile, it would eventually maximize the inflation/deflation rates.

One should consider the interrelation of the design properties before making up their mind about a balloon catheter.


In conclusion, it is evident that considering a balloon catheter respective to its every designing characteristic is a daunting task. That is why, in this article, it is explained in a possible concise manner to consider the one with the design that suits best for your needs, minding the interrelation.

This is where Minnesota MedTec comes in to ensure that there is zero compromise on quality. Being an FDA and ISO approved medical components supplier, you can move forward in your business without taking a step back.