Medical equipment and devices

The importance of fluoropolymers for the sector

Fluoropolymers enable excellent performance and long lifetime in medical equipment such as surgically implantable medical devices, catheters, guide wires, filters and pumps. This reduces the need for replacements, risk of failure, cross-infections and clogging of medical equipment, thereby contributing to the reduction and avoidance of medical complications and reinterventions, the associated pain and public cost.

Alongside uses in vital medical devices, fluoropolymers are used to avoid drug contamination and other critical substances. Restricting fluoropolymers would in fact put the health of Europeans at risk. Fluoropolymers are extremely versatile substances adapted to various medical needs due to their porous and open structure that facilitates tissue growth. Specifically, they are required in tubing to avoid contamination.

Fluoropolymers have no negative impact on human health when used as intended. When used in medical devices, clinical studies have also shown fluoropolymers are neither carcinogenic nor harmful to the reproductive or endocrinal systems.

Medical technology is a thriving sector which employed about 675.000 people in 2018 across 27.000 companies. Innovation is critical to achieving a high level of public health protection in a competitive knowledge-based economy. In fact, the sector registered more the 13.000 new patents in 2018.

Unique properties of fluoropolymers and their benefits for the sector

Fluoropolymers are vital for the medical sector due to their unique properties.

Their non-wetting and non-stick properties and high resistance to temperature provide numerous benefits, including:

Reduced risk of cross-infections and medical complications and the resulting pain and public cost

Increased lifetime of implants reducing the risk of failure, risk of replacement and risk of reoperation

Allows tissue attachment and cell adhesion without an adverse reaction due to the biocompatibility of fluoropolymers

Higher consistency of dosages, increasing effectiveness and safety of drugs

Less frequent clogging and thus less frequent re-application/replacement for the patient

Improved functionality of medical equipment (e.g. filtering and venting)

Facilitates non-invasive surgical procedures with guidewires

Facilities miniaturisation for keyhole survey

Fluoropolymers and the future of the industry

Fluoropolymers are key enablers of the development of new medical technologies allowing for continuous improvement of public health protection using the most advanced knowledge and latest technologies available.

  • Membrane for heart defects: It is a permanent implant consisting of a wire frame covered with a thin fluoropolymer membrane. The wire frame is made of a platinum-filled nickel-titanium (Nitinol) alloy.
  • Endoprosthesis for the functionality of damaged liver: The proprietary, reduced permeability fluoropolymer graft lining minimizes transmural permeation of bile and mucin (which are common causes of patency loss) and minimizes tissue ingrowth into the graft for ease of surgical dissection during liver transplantation.

Applications

Surgically implantable medical devices such as vascular grafts
Heart patches
Catheters 
Diaphragm pumps
Membranes for filtering and venting purposes
Fluoropolymers play an essential role in enabling medical imaging and analysis (via electronic chips and semiconductors in X-ray, MRI, CT scan and echography) as well as medical analysis (blood, tissue, urine analysis)
Sterile container filters, needle retrieval systems, Tracheosto, a catheter guide wire for laparoscopy, valves, fittings, pumps, tubing and medicine inhaler canister coatings