February 27, 2006

Abbott has announced the introduction of a new specialty catheter designed to access arteries and other vessels in the body that may be difficult to reach, the company said.

Abbott's Asahi Tornus catheter is a stainless steel device designed to deliver balloon catheters and stents to vessels blocked with dense fibrous fatty plaque, known as chronic occlusions. These blockages have proven very difficult to address, said Gregg Stone, a doctor in Columbia University Medical Center's Division of Cardiology. "Chronic occlusions have proven so resistant to conventional interventional technology that we refer to them as the 'last frontier' in interventional therapy," he added.

Interventional therapy, also described as minimally invasive therapy, allows some patients with vessel disease to avoid surgery by undergoing treatment with balloon catheters or stents that are threaded to specific sites of vessel disease over therapeutic wires. Before a site of vessel blockage can be opened with a balloon or stent, it must be penetrated and crossed using a wire and support catheter. This is often referred to as "crossing the lesion."

"If a lesion cannot be crossed, it cannot be treated with minimally invasive therapy, and a patient may have to be referred for open heart surgery," said Stone.

While most catheters are made of conventional plastic, the Tornus catheter is made of stainless steel to provide extra support during operator handling. The device's design consists of several hair-thin, stainless steel strands braided together to enhance flexibility and strength, along with a safety-release valve at the proximal end to indicate when the device has reached maximum rotation, and a specialized tapered distal tip with a radio-opaque marker for optimal visualization in navigating difficult-to-access areas.

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