Control of intravascular catheters using an array of active steering coils

N. Gudino, J. A. Heilman, J. J. Derakhshan, J. L. Sunshine, J. L. Duerk, M. A. Griswold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Purpose: To extend the concept of deflecting the tip of a catheter with the magnetic force created in an MRI system through the use of an array of independently controllable steering coils located in the catheter tip, and to present methods for visualization of the catheter and/or surrounding areas while the catheter is deflected.Methods: An array of steering coils made of 42-gauge wire was built over a 2.5 Fr (0.83 mm) fiber braided microcatheter. Two of the coils were 70 turn axial coils separated by 1 cm, and the third was a 15-turn square side coil that was 2 × 4 mm2. Each coil was driven independently by a pulse width modulation (PWM) current source controlled by a microprocessor that received commands from a matlab routine that dynamically set current amplitude and direction for each coil. The catheter was immersed in a water phantom containing 1% Gd-DTPA that was placed at the isocenter of a 1.5 T MRI scanner. Deflections of the catheter tip were measured from image-based data obtained with a real-time radio frequency (RF) spoiled gradient echo sequence (GRE). The small local magnetic fields generated by the steering coils were exploited to generate a hyperintense signal at the catheter tip by using a modified GRE sequence that did not include slice-select rewinding gradients. Imaging and excitation modes were implemented by synchronizing the excitation of the steering coil array with the scanner by ensuring that no current was driven through the coils during the data acquisition window; this allowed visualization of the surrounding tissue while not affecting the desired catheter position.Results: Deflections as large as 2.5 cm were measured when exciting the steering coils sequentially with a 100 mA maximum current per coil. When exciting a single axial coil, the deflection was half this value with 30% higher current. A hyperintense catheter tip useful for catheter tracking was obtained by imaging with the modified GRE sequence. Clear visualization of the areas surrounding the catheter was obtained by using the excitation and imaging mode even with a repetition time (TR) as small as 10 ms.Conclusions: A new system for catheter steering is presented that allows large deflections through the use of an integrated array of steering coils. Additionally, two imaging techniques for tracking the catheter tip and visualization of surrounding areas, without interference from the active catheter, were shown. Together the demonstrated steerable catheter, control system and the imaging techniques will ultimately contribute to the development of a steerable system for interventional MRI procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4215-4224
Number of pages10
JournalMedical physics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Interventional MRI
  • catheter tracking
  • endovascular interventions
  • steerable catheter


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