The word, catheter, is derived from the Greek word of the same name, which was an instrument used as a plug. A catheter is a hollow tubelike structure that can be inserted into a blood vessel, duct, or body cavity. In modern uses, catheters allow the drainage of fluids, the infusion of fluids, or act as a conduit to allow the insertion of surgical or diagnostic instruments into a body cavity. In some cases, catheters can be large, solid, and relatively hard tubes. In others, they can be narrow and flexible, depending on the use.
It is believed that ancient Egyptians used metal pipes to perform urinary catheterization to drain and collect urine from the bladder. During the postwar era of the 20th century, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or nylon tubes were used as catheters. The materials were cut according to need and sterilized with other medical equipment to prevent infection.
Catheterization is a process in which the catheter is inserted into the body cavity. The earliest published descriptions of human catheterization were done by Fritz Bleichroeder, E. Unger, and W. Loeb in 1912. They were among the first to insert catheters into blood vessels without X-ray visualization.
Modern catheters are tubes into which instruments can be inserted or various fluids injected or drained. There are vast differences in modern catheters, however, because of the materials used and their ability to facilitate a number of procedures.
Catheters are constructed with an outer tube of various shapes that can be flexible or rigid, interior tubes (lumens) that act as conduits for medications or instruments, tips that are coated to allow visualization under X-ray or fluoroscopy, and various coatings that allow prolonged implantation into the body without rejection or that make insertion more comfortable.
Catheters have become important medical devices, and applications range from low-end introduction of fluids and medications to high-end applications such as placement of stents, performance of angioplasty, and measurement and monitoring of body parameters such blood pressure and temperature.
Depending on the type of catheter used, there are six major application areas:
- Measurement of certain body parameters
Different applications often require catheters with various characteristics or properties. For example, angiography, neurology, urology, and central venous catheters travel through the body after they are inserted into blood vessels and must possess more flexibility.
Catheters are important medical devices because they frequently are used in more than five key medical and surgical areas. Various key market drivers influence the growth of the medical device market. These drivers can be economic, epidemiological, technological, or industry-based factors.
The above is an extract from the BCC Research report, Global Markets for Catheters (HLC019E). To download the complimentary first chapter, please click here.