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Q: What is a guidewire?

A: A guidewire is a highly specialized complex metal wire structure that is capable of being steered through the arteries and veins. The wire will often have varying degrees of rigidity and it is highly responsive to rotational movements so that it can be steered. Many of these devices use additional materials to improve the ease of entry and they also include radiopaque markers that can be seen during the catheterization procedure. The guidewire is steered to the point in the body at which the procedure needs to occur. It is used as a carrying wire for the delivery of a wide variety of catheters, stents and other interventional devices. Once the guide wire is inserted, the catheter is slid over the guide wire and pushed directly to the location required. The guidewire’s shape in the body naturally steers the catheter. Often internal catheter layers have a hard and lubricious coating to support with inserting over the length of the wire. This is typical done with PTFE as a liner for the catheter.

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