Intracardiac imaging catheters represent unique instruments to diagnose and treat a diseased heart. While there are imminent advances in medical innovation, many of the commercially available imaging catheters are outdated. Some of them have been designed more than 20 years and therefore they lack novel sensor technology, multi-functionality, and often require manual assembly process. Introduction chapter of this thesis discusses clinical needs and introduces new technological concepts that are needed to progress the functionality and clinical value of the intracardiac catheters along with efficient and simple designs to make the catheters affordable for the patients. The following chapters are grouped into two parts that explore complementary transducer technology and a novel optical fiber-link solution for catheter-based intracardiac imaging.
Part I focuses on developing a new intracardiac catheter that has an advanced functionality, which provides clinician with high penetration or close-up high resolution ultrasound imaging in a single device. This agile ultrasound visualization is enabled by a capacitive-micromachined ultrasound transducer (CMUT), operated in collapse-mode, of which the operating frequency can be tuned. Acoustic performance of a fabricated CMUT is modelled and measured. Imaging performance of the CMUT array is quantified on a tissue-mimicking phantom and demonstrated both ex vivo and in vivo experiments. It is found that the combination of the forward-looking design, frequency-tuning and agile deflectability of the catheter allow for visualizing intracardiac structures of various sizes at different distances relative to the catheter tip, providing both wide overviews and detailed close-ups.
Part II is devoted to a novel optical technology for transmitting signals and transferring power inside catheters. A novel concept of an all-optical fiber link is introduced. A key insight obtained is that a blue light-emitting diode (LED) may be used as a photo-voltaic converter. Used in reverse under illumination with violet light, it converts significant amount of photonic energy to electricity and at the same time it may emit blue light back, which makes it a unique miniature power and communication channel for catheters. A pressure-sensing catheter prototype is built to demonstrate the concept of transmitting signals and delivering power using a single optical fiber and an LED. The potential of the power and signal fiber link solution is exploited further for ultrasound imaging. A bench-top demonstrator scalable to catheter dimensions is built, in which electrical wires for ultrasound-sensor signal and power transfer are replaced by optical fibers.

The presented technologies allow for slender devices with high level of integration and simple assembly, which may make these smart disposable devices more affordable.

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A.F.W. van der Steen (Ton) , G. van Soest (Gijs) , M.B. van der Mark (Martin)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Department of Biomedical Engineering

Pekař, M. (2017, September 13). Agile and Bright Intracardiac Catheters. Retrieved from