Medical Balloons, Compliance, and Common Materials

Medical balloons play an important role in various medical procedures, ranging from simple to more complex procedures. They can assist in stent placements, drug delivery, cryoablation, and removing blockages of arteries in the body. The uses of the items can be wide-ranging, but are all very important in what they do. The materials of medical balloons can differ depending on different factors at play. Some materials that may be used are nylon, Pebax, or silicone to name a few. There are different materials needed depending on the application that may be used and how much the balloon needs to expand for example. Compliance is an important item to consider for these products.

Medical balloons and compliance refer to the increased diameter of the balloon that results from a specific pressure of inflation applied. Compliant medical balloons will keep expanding as the pressure increases and doesn’t have a specific range. Non-compliant and semi-compliant balloons expand only to a certain size or range even if the pressure keeps rising. The type wanted will depend, as complaint types are used for holding a device in place and the other side is used for applying force. The material needed will depend on which type of medical balloon you are utilizing.

In regard to compliant medical balloons, these will typically consist of a silicone or polyurethane material. These materials need to be able to stretch to 100% and even up to 800% to fully fill a space, so the material chosen has to have that amount of elasticity. These materials also have biocompatibility features to them which are needed for entering the body. Non-compliant balloons may be made of nylon or polyester, while semi-compliant options may be made of Pebax (material made of block copolymers that are both soft and rigid). These again are going to be cases where the balloon can only expand to a certain size or range. A main factor for the material is going to depend on the strength to ensure the balloon can handle the extra stretching and form changing.

When creating a medical balloon, factors such as procedure, size needed for expansion, tensile strength, wall thickness, and lubricity are just a few items to consider. Compliance is important for the procedure that the medical balloon will be utilized in. It is important to understand these points so the products will be created for safe and efficient use in the body. ProPlate works on medical balloon and polymer electroplating for ablation and sensing functions for example. We would be excited to work with you on your next engineering project, so please reach out.

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