Catheter steering in interventional cardiology: Mechanical analysis and novel solution

Awaz Ali, Aimee Sakes, Ewout A. Arkenbout, Paul Henselmans, Remi van Starkenburg, Tamas Szili-Torok, Paul Breedveld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
63 Downloads (Pure)


In recent years, steerable catheters have been developed to combat the effects of the dynamic cardiac environment. Mechanically actuated steerable catheters appear the most in the clinical setting; however, they are bound to a number of mechanical limitations. The aim of this research is to gain insight in these limitations and use this information to develop a new prototype of a catheter with increased steerability. The main limitations in mechanically steerable catheters are identified and analysed, after which requirements and solutions are defined to design a multi-steerable catheter. Finally, a prototype is built and a proof-of-concept test is carried out to analyse the steering functions. The mechanical analysis results in the identification of five limitations: (1) low torsion, (2) shaft shortening, (3) high unpredictable friction, (4) coupled tip-shaft movements, and (5) complex cardiac environment. Solutions are found to each of the limitations and result in the design of a novel multi-steerable catheter with four degrees of freedom. A prototype is developed which allows the dual-segmented tip to be steered over multiple planes and in multiple directions, allowing a range of complex motions including S-shaped curves and circular movements. A detailed analysis of limitations underlying mechanically steerable catheters has led to a new design for a multi-steerable catheter for complex cardiac interventions. The four integrated degrees of freedom provide a high variability of tip directions, and repetition of the bending angle is relatively simple and reliable. The ability to steer inside the heart with a variety of complex shaped curves may potentially change conventional approaches in interventional cardiology towards more patient-specific and lower complexity procedures. Future directions are headed towards further design optimizations and the experimental validation of the prototype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1207-1218
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • biomechanical testing/analysis
  • Biomedical devices
  • biomedical instrumentation
  • cardiovascular implants
  • cardiovascular system mechanics

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