Hydrophilic coatings have been utilised within the medical industry for over 60 years, but what exactly are they and why are they so useful in such circumstances?
What are hydrophilic coatings?
Hydrophilic means ‘water loving’, so a hydrophilic coating literally means a water loving coating – one that attracts fluid due to being polarised and therefore creating a much lower surface friction.
Why are hydrophilic coatings so popular in the medical industry?
It is this ‘water loving’ nature of hydrophilic coatings that make them a good option when looking into coating solutions for medical equipment, most notably surgical tools. This is down to the fact that these items will be regularly coming into contact with bodily fluids and tissues, with the hydrophilic coating creating less friction with the skin. This enables surgical instruments to be used with reduced patient trauma and allows them to be inserted more smoothly and easily.
What instruments can hydrophilic coatings be used on?
Catheter guide wires are the most common instrument to be coated, as the hydrophilic coating is used to prevent ‘stick slip’ (when the catheter causes friction in the veins or arteries which can kill). The coatings can also be helpful when applied to introducers, shunts, tubes, endoscopes, needles and more. As further research and development within both the medical and coatings industries continues, the list of instruments that hydrophilic coatings can be used with is continually growing. Areas such as fertility, contraception, respiratory care and endoscopy will all be able to see further benefits of the right coating application.
Why not use Teflon?
Where we have said previously that hydrophilic coatings are “water loving”, Teflon sits on the other end of the spectrum as a hydrophobic or “water fearing” surface solution. This means that as Teflon coating repels water, it would not be an ideal option when using it to insert catheters, needles or tubes as it could damage the body tissue.
Are hydrophilic coatings used just in the medical industry?
You can often find hydrophilic coatings being used outside the medical industry, such as on boats, swimming pools and other surfaces that have an association with water, however the coating in these scenarios slightly differs to the coatings used in the medical industry.
Due to the medical industry being under constant scrutiny and regular inspection by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the hydrophilic coating used in the medical industry is a lot more complicated and requires a more delicate and sophisticated process, in comparison to coating sealant on a boat. This basically comes down to the fact that instruments in the medical industry could potentially do a lot of good, or a lot of harm, depending on how well they are made and coated.
If you would like to know more about how Product Release could help your industry, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts, who can discuss your problem and recommend an innovative solution that will not only help you now but will minimise future damage or repairs, giving you peace of mind.