The terms guidewire and catheter are often interchanged by non-technical professionals, we wanted to provide a simple description of what a guidewire is and how it works.
Guidewires are used to guide catheter products to a desired treatment location within the body. They are typically inserted into patients through a small incision in the groin and then maneuvered through arteries and vessels to the area of vascular disease.
Once in place, the catheter is threaded over the guidewire for treatment. The introducer wire is then pulled out of the system and disposed of.
Guidewires are considered minimally invasive since it only takes a small incision to get the wire into the system. Compared to alternative options, the guide wire is much less invasive. Improvements in imaging and sensor technologies allows the guidewire to be placed much more accurately.
Other Uses of the Term
Some people may call a K-Wire a guidewire which is technically correct but not the common usage. In Spinal surgery, the k-wire is used to penetrate bone in a precise spot. After the k-wire is firmly in place, a cannulated screw is placed over the K-wire and screwed into place. After the screw is firmly placed, the k-wire is taken out.