Coronary balloon catheter tip damage. A bench study of a clinical problem.

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To confirm clinically that coronary balloon catheter tips may be damaged during bifurcation treatment with side-branch access through the side of a stent. On the bench, we aimed to assess the susceptibility of different balloon designs to damage. We compared catheter tip widths. We tested whether balloon tip flaring can cause stent distortion.


We had observed that balloon catheters that failed to cross to a side-branch frequently exhibited tip damage.


We examined microscopically for damage 82 balloon tips after clinical side-branch access. In a bench study, the forces required to compress catheter tips 0.5 mm were compared to assess susceptibility to damage. We compared tip widths of balloons of different nominal inflation diameters. We examined stents after side-branch access for distortion. In 42 of 48 (88%) of balloon tips from patients with resistance to or failure to cross through the side of a stent there was tip damage. Even when the balloon crossed without perceptible resistance, tip damage occurred in over half of balloons 18/34 (53%). Some balloon designs were more resistant to damage than others. Tips from balloons of different nominal diameters from the same manufacturer had the same width. Stent distortion caused by damaged balloon tips is improved by kissing balloon post-dilatation.


Balloon tip damage is common with crossing between stent struts. This is one cause of failure of a balloon to access a side-branch and a new balloon should be used. If stent distortion is suspected, it should be corrected with kissing balloon post-dilatation.

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