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Title:
DEVICES AND METHODS FOR REMOVAL OF ACUTE BLOCKAGES FROM BLOOD VESSELS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/097616
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A catheter has an expansile tip 901 that can be delivered in a constricted form. The increased tip diameter facilitates the aspiration and removal of large clot volumes by increasing the area of the catheter tip that applies aspiration to the clot. The tip 901 comprises a support frame which can be cut from a metal or polymer tube, covered with a thin polymer sleeve 909 containing highly elastic properties. This construction provides good pushability and high compressive resistance. The cut pattern can contain axial connections of the support frame 908 and ring members 906, which will provide a large level of axial support, lateral flexibility and hoop strength to withstand aspiration. The tip of the device can contain a section 907 proximal of the highly flexible area 905 that can expand to except clot. This potential to increase body diameter facilitates the retrieval of large volume clots while the construction of the catheter provides good column stiffness to avoid axial collapse and still maintain good flexibility.

Inventors:
VALE, David (Froghollow, Lacklea RoadBarna, County Galway, IE)
CASEY, Brendan (87 Ros Ard, Cappagh RoadBarna, County Galway, IE)
GILVARRY, Michael (Ballinakillew, Headford, County Galway, IE)
MCARDLE, Kevin (7 Carrig Geal, Gort RoadLoughrea, County Galway, IE)
HOLIAN, Maeve (Kilmore, Barnaderg,Tuam, County Galway, IE)
HARDIMAN, David (98 Bettyglen, Raheny, Dublin 5, IE)
KEANE, Alan (44 Rathfarnham Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14, IE)
KING, Daniel (Boleybeg, Barna, County Galway, IE)
O'GORMAN, Jacqueline (Brickhill West, Cratloe, County Clare, IE)
BRADY, Eamon (Doon, Kilreekil, County Galway, IE)
Application Number:
EP2016/078973
Publication Date:
June 15, 2017
Filing Date:
November 28, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
NEURAVI LIMITED (Block 3, Ballybrit Business ParkGalway, H91 K5YD, H91 K5YD, IE)
International Classes:
A61B17/22; A61M1/00
Domestic Patent References:
2012-11-22
2015-12-17
Foreign References:
US20130131614A12013-05-23
US5102415A1992-04-07
US20110213297A12011-09-01
US5011488A1991-04-30
US20120101510A12012-04-26
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
O'BRIEN, John et al. (John A. O'Brien & Associates, Third Floor Duncairn House,14 Carysfort Avenue,Blackrock, County Dublin 01, 01, IE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A catheter having an expansile distal tip, the catheter tip having a constricted delivery configuration and an expanded deployed configuration, and comprising a support frame and an elastic sleeve extending over the frame, the sleeve being expandable in the deployed configuration to define an enlarged distal tip.

2. A catheter as claimed in claim 1 wherein the sleeve is partially folded in the delivery configuration.

3. A catheter as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein at least a portion of the support frame is configured to expand radially outwardly from the deployed configuration.

4. A catheter as claimed in any of claims 1 to 3 wherein the support frame comprises a flexible region just proximal of the distal tip.

5. A catheter as claimed in any of claims 1 to 4 wherein the support frame is cut from a tube and the cut pattern defines ring members and axially extending connections between the ring members.

6. A catheter as claimed in any of claims 1 to 5 wherein at least a distal region of the support frame comprises a radiopaque material.

7. A catheter as claimed in any of claims 1 to 6 wherein the sleeve comprises a polymeric membrane.

8. A catheter as claimed in claim 7 wherein the membrane has an internal and/or an external low friction coating. 9. A clot retrieval system comprising :- a first catheter as claimed in any of claims 1 to 8; and an access catheter, the self expanding distal tip of the first catheter being collapsible to a diameter less than or equal to that of the access catheter for delivery through the lumen of the access catheter, and being expandable to a diameter which is greater than that of the access catheter lumen in an unconstrained state.

A system comprising :- a clot retrieval catheter having a distal tip which is expansile from a radially retracted delivery configuration to a radially expanded configuration for reception of a clot; and a self expanding element having a retracted delivery configuration and an expanded configuration, the self expanding element being axially movable within the catheter from an axially retracted configuration proximal of the distal tip to an axially extended configuration to expand the distal tip of the catheter.

A system as claimed in claim 10 wherein the self expanding element is mounted to a proximally extending control element.

A system as claimed in claim 11 wherein the control element comprises a control wire extending from the self expanding element.

A system as claimed in any of claims 10 to 12 wherein the self expanding element comprises a super elastic material such as Nitinol.

A system comprising :- a catheter selected from an aspiration catheter and an intermediate catheter; and a clot gripper which is adapted for gripping clot.

A system as claimed in claim 14 wherein the clot gripper is a separate element which movable relative to the catheter.

16. A system as claimed in claim 15 wherein the clot gripper comprises a shaft having clot gripping means at the distal end of the shaft. 17. A system as claimed in claim 16 wherein the clot gripper comprises a barbed tipped shaft for gripping clot.

18. A system as claimed in claim 16 wherein the clot gripping means is movable from a delivery configuration to an expanded clot gripping configuration.

19. A system as claimed in claim 18 wherein the clot gripping means comprises two or more jaws for gripping clot.

20. A system as claimed in claim 14 wherein the clot gripper is integrated with the catheter.

21. A system as claimed in claim 20 wherein the clot gripper comprises a snare.

22. A system as claimed in claim 21 wherein the clot gripper comprises a distal loop which is movable from an inactive position at the distal end of the catheter to an active configuration and an actuator for activating the loop.

23. A system as claimed in claim 22 wherein the loop is retained in the inactive position within receivers at the distal end of the catheter and the activator is adapted to remove the loop from the receivers.

24. A system as claimed in any of claims 14 to 23 wherein the catheter comprises an expansile distal tip.

25. A catheter having an expandable distal tip and having an integral actuator for expanding and contracting the distal tip.

26. A catheter as claimed in claim 25 wherein the distal tip comprises a support material to provide lateral strength, and an expansile material to maintain a closed wall at the tip on expansion and contraction of the tip.

27. A catheter as claimed in claim 25 or 26 wherein the actuator comprises a wire which extends around the distal tip. 28. A catheter as claimed in claim 27 wherein the wire extends around a guide lumen at the distal tip of the catheter.

29. A catheter as claimed in claim 28 wherein the wire is fixed at a fixation location within the guide lumen.

30. A catheter as claimed in any of claims 27 to 29 wherein the wire extends through a lumen in the catheter which extends along the length of the catheter.

31. A catheter having a distal tip and comprising internal grip features on the internal surface of the distal tip.

32. A catheter as claimed in claim 31 wherein the grip features are unidirectional grip features. 33. A catheter as claimed in claim 31 or 32 wherein the distal tip is an expansile distal tip.

34. A catheter as claimed in any of claims 31 to 33 and an atraumatic element for location at the distal tip to cover the grip features during advancement of the catheter. 35. A catheter as claimed in claim 34 wherein the atraumatic element is mounted on an elongate control element.

36. A catheter as claimed in claim 34 or 35 wherein the atraumatic element comprises a lumen.

37. An aspiration catheter having an open distal end, a secondary hole in the wall of the catheter adjacent to the distal end and a closure element which is movable from a closed position normally closing the secondary hole to an open position in which the secondary hole is exposed. An aspiration catheter as claimed in claim 37 wherein the closure element comprises a hinged tab.

An aspiration catheter as claimed in claim 37 or 38 wherein the closure element is movable in response to blockage of the distal end of a catheter.

A catheter comprising an inner sleeve, an outer sleeve and a flexible element interconnecting the sleeves at the distal end of the catheter, the inner and/or the outer sleeves being movable relative to one other.

A catheter as claimed in claim 40 wherein the length of the flexible element is from 2mm to 30mm, from 5mm to 15mm.

A catheter as claimed in claim 40 or 41 wherein the flexible element comprises a polymeric material such as polyurethane.

A catheter as claimed in claim 40 or 41 wherein the flexible element comprises a braid of superelastic material such as Nitinol.

A clot retrieval system comprising an outer access catheter and an inner rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter which is adapted to be advanced through the outer catheter wherein the system comprises a narrowed region which forms a seal between at least a portion of the inner wall of the outer access catheter and at least a portion of an outer region of the inner clot retrieval catheter.

A clot retrieval system as claimed in claim 44 wherein the outer catheter comprises a narrowed region which forms a seal between the inner wall of the outer access catheter and the outer wall of the inner clot retrieval catheter.

A catheter comprising a self expandable distal tip and having a narrowed section reduced diameter adapted to provide enhanced flexibility and trackability.

47. A catheter as claimed in claim 46 wherein the reduced diameter section has a length of from 20mm to 200mm, in one case approximately 100mm.

48. A catheter as claimed in claim 46 or 47 wherein the diameter of the reduced diameter section is from 50% to 60% of the diameter of the main body of the catheter.

49. A catheter having a distal tip and a neck-down region just proximal of the distal tip.

50. A catheter as claimed in claim 49 wherein the transition from the neck down region to the distal tip defines a flare.

Description:
"Devices and methods for removal of acute blockages from blood vessels" Field of the Invention

This invention relates to devices intended for removing acute blockages from blood vessels. Acute obstructions may include clot, misplaced devices, migrated devices, large emboli and the like. Thromboembolism occurs when part or all of a thrombus breaks away from the blood vessel wall. This clot (now called an embolus) is then carried in the direction of blood flow. An ischemic stroke may result if the clot lodges in the cerebral vasculature. A pulmonary embolism may result if the clot originates in the venous system or in the right side of the heart and lodges in a pulmonary artery or branch thereof. Clots may also develop and block vessels locally without being released in the form of an embolus - this mechanism is common in the formation of coronary blockages. The invention is particularly suited to removing clot from cerebral arteries in patients suffering acute ischemic stroke (AIS), from coronary native or graft vessels in patients suffering from myocardial infarction (MI), and from pulmonary arteries in patients suffering from pulmonary embolism (PE) and from other peripheral arterial and venous vessels in which clot is causing an occlusion.

Summary of Invention

According to the invention there is provided a catheter having an expansile distal tip, the catheter tip having a constricted delivery configuration and an expanded deployed configuration, and comprising a support frame and an elastic sleeve extending over the frame, the sleeve being expandable in the deployed configuration to define an enlarged distal tip.

In one embodiment the sleeve is partially folded in the delivery configuration.

In one case at least a portion of the support frame is configured to expand radially outwardly from the deployed configuration.

In one embodiment the support frame comprises a flexible region just proximal of the distal tip.

The support frame may be cut from a tube and the cut pattern defines ring members and axially extending connections between the ring members.

At least a distal region of the support frame may comprise a radiopaque material. In one embodiment the sleeve comprises a polymeric membrane. The membrane may have an internal and/or external low friction coating. The invention also provides a clot retrieval system comprising:- a first catheter of the invention; and an access catheter, the self expanding distal tip of the first catheter being collapsible to a diameter less than or equal to that of the access catheter for delivery through the lumen of the access catheter, and being expandable to a diameter which is greater than that of the access catheter lumen in an unconstrained state.

The invention further provides a system comprising :- a clot retrieval catheter having a self expanding distal tip which is expansile from a radially retracted delivery configuration to a radially expanded configuration for reception of a clot; and an access catheter; the self expanding distal tip being collapsible to a diameter less than or equal to that of the access catheter for delivery through the lumen of the access catheter, and being expandable to a diameter greater than that of the access catheter lumen in an unconstrained state.

The invention also provides a system comprising :- a clot retrieval catheter having a distal tip which is expansile from a radially retracted delivery configuration to a radially expanded configuration for reception of a clot; and a self expanding element having a retracted delivery configuration and an expanded configuration, the self expanding element being axially movable within the catheter from an axially retracted configuration proximal of the distal tip to an axially extended configuration to expand the distal tip of the catheter.

The self expanding element may be mounted to a proximally extending control element. The control element may comprise a control wire extending from the self expanding element. The self expanding element may comprise a super elastic material such as Nitinol.

In another aspect the invention provides a system comprising:- a catheter selected from an aspiration catheter and an intermediate catheter; and a clot gripper which is adapted for gripping clot.

The clot gripper may be a separate element which is movable relative to the catheter.

The clot gripper may comprise a shaft having clot gripping means at the distal end of the shaft.

In one case the clot gripper comprises a barbed tipped shaft for gripping clot. In one case the clot gripping means is movable from a delivery configuration to an expanded clot gripping configuration.

The clot gripping means may comprise two or more jaws for gripping clot. In some cases the clot gripper is integrated with the catheter. In one case the clot gripper comprises a snare.

In some embodiments the clot gripper comprises a distal loop which is movable from an inactive position at the distal end of the catheter to an active configuration and an actuator for activating the loop.

The loop may be retained in the inactive position within receivers at the distal end of the catheter and the activator is adapted to remove the loop from the receivers. In the system of the invention the catheter may comprise an expansile distal tip.

In a further aspect the invention provided a catheter having an expandable distal tip and having an integral actuator for expanding and contracting the distal tip.

The distal tip may comprise a support material to provide lateral strength, and an expansile material to maintain a closed wall at the tip on expansion and contraction of the tip. In one case the actuator comprises a wire which extends around the distal tip.

The wire may extend around a guide lumen at the distal tip of the catheter.

The wire may be fixed at a fixation location within the guide lumen.

In some cases the wire extends through a lumen in the catheter which extends along the length of the catheter.

The invention also provides a catheter having a distal tip and comprising internal grip features on the internal surface of the distal tip.

The grip features may be unidirectional grip features.

The distal tip may be an expansile distal tip.

An atraumatic element may be provided for location at the distal tip to cover the grip features during advancement of the catheter.

In one case the atraumatic element is mounted on an elongate control element.

The atraumatic element may comprise a lumen.

In a further aspect the invention provides an aspiration catheter having an open distal end, a secondary hole in the wall of the catheter adjacent to the distal end and a closure element which is movable from a closed position normally closing the secondary hole to an open position in which the secondary hole is exposed.

In one embodiment the closure element comprises a hinged tab.

The closure element may be movable in response to blockage of the distal end of a catheter.

A catheter comprising an inner sleeve, an outer sleeve and a flexible element interconnecting the sleeves at the distal end of the catheter, the inner and/or the outer sleeves being movable relative to one other.

The length of the flexible element in some cases is from 2mm to 30mm, from 5mm to 15mm. The flexible element may comprise a polymeric material such as polyurethane.

The flexible element may comprise a braid of superelastic material such as Nitinol.

The invention further provides a clot retrieval system comprising an outer access catheter and an inner rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter which is adapted to be advanced through the outer catheter wherein the system comprises a narrowed region which forms a seal between at least a portion of the inner wall of the outer access catheter and at least a portion of an outer region of the inner clot retrieval catheter.

In some cases the outer catheter comprises a narrowed region which forms a seal between the inner wall of the outer access catheter and the outer wall of the inner clot retrieval catheter.

Also provided is a method of retrieving an obstructive thrombus from a patient's blood vessel using the clot retrieval system of the invention, the method comprising the steps of:- advancing the access catheter into the vasculature of the patient; advancing the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter through the access catheter; continuing to advance the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter until the distal mouth of the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter is adjacent the proximal face of the obstructive thrombus; aspirating through the access catheter to reduce the pressure within the distal mouth of the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter to urge clot into the catheter mouth.

Also provided is a catheter comprising a self expandable distal tip and having a narrowed section of reduced diameter adapted to provide enhanced flexibility and trackability.

The reduced diameter section may have a length of from 20mm to 200mm, in one case approximately 100mm. In one case the diameter of the reduced diameter section is from 50% to 60% of the diameter of the main body of the catheter.

Also provided is a catheter having a distal tip and a neck-down region just proximal of the distal tip. In one case the transition from the neck down region to the distal tip defines a flare.

The invention also provides a method of retrieving an obstructive thrombus from a patient's blood vessel, the method comprising the steps of:- advancing a microcatheter across the thrombus;

advancing a clot retrieval device through the microcatheter;

partially retracting the microcatheter to deploy at least a portion of the clot retrieval device distal of the thrombus;

advancing a clot retrieval catheter to a position adjacent the proximal face of the thrombus;

aspirating through the clot retrieval catheter to urge at least a portion of the thrombus into the distal mouth of said catheter;

removing the clot retrieval catheter and at least a portion of the thrombus from the patient. In one case at least of portion of the clot retrieval device remains constrained within the microcatheter during at least part of the aspiration step.

In one case portion of the clot retrieval device distal of the thrombus comprises a fragment capture basket.

In some embodiments the method comprises the additional step of further retracting the microcatheter to deploy an additional portion of the clot retrieval device within the clot prior to removal of the clot retrieval catheter.

In some cases the method comprises the additional step of retracting the clot retrieval device at least partially into the mouth of the clot retrieval catheter.

In some embodiments the clot retrieval device is removed from the patient simultaneously with the clot retrieval catheter.

Also provided is a clot retrieval system comprising an outer access catheter, an inner rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter, and a clot capture device;

the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter comprising a proximal elongate shaft and a distal tubular member;

the clot capture device comprising a proximal elongate shaft and a distal expandable portion;

the system comprising a restriction to effect a seal between at least a portion of the inner wall of the outer access catheter and at least a portion of the distal tubular member of the inner clot retrieval catheter.

The invention also provides a method of retrieving an obstructive thrombus from a patient's blood vessel using the clot retrieval system of the invention, the method comprising the steps of:- advancing the access catheter into the vasculature of the patient;

advancing a clot capture device up to and across the thrombus;

deploying at least a portion of the clot capture device distal of the thrombus; advancing the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter through the access catheter to a position adjacent the proximal face of the thrombus; applying an aspiration force to the proximal end of the access catheter to effect aspiration through the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter to urge clot into the catheter mouth;

withdrawing the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter through the access catheter and out of the patient.

The method may further comprise the step of retracting the clot capture device and any captured thrombus through the access catheter and out of the patient.

The method may comprise the step of retracting the clot capture device and the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter and captured thrombus simultaneously through the access catheter and out of the patient.

In some cases the method comprises the step of partially retracting the clot capture device into the distal mouth of the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter and then removing the clot capture device and rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter and any captured thrombus simultaneously through the access catheter and out of the patient.

Also provided is a method of retrieving an obstructive thrombus from a patient's blood vessel using the clot retrieval system of the invention, the method comprising the steps of:- advancing the access catheter into the vasculature of the patient;

advancing a clot capture device up to and across the thrombus;

deploying at least a portion of the clot capture device distal of the thrombus; advancing the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter through the access catheter to a position adjacent the proximal face of the thrombus;

applying an aspiration force to the proximal end of the access catheter to effect aspiration through the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter;

retracting the clot capture device and at least a portion of the thrombus into the mouth of the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter;

withdrawing the clot capture device and at least a portion of the thrombus through the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter and access catheter and out of the patient.

Further provided is a method of retrieving an obstructive thrombus from a patient's blood vessel using the clot retrieval system of the invention, the method comprising the steps of:- a) advancing the access catheter into the vasculature of the patient;

b) advancing a clot capture device up to and across the thrombus;

c) deploying at least a portion of the clot capture device distal of the thrombus;

d) advancing the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter through the access catheter to a position adjacent the proximal face of the thrombus;

e) applying an aspiration force to the proximal end of the access catheter to effect aspiration through the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter and urge at least a portion of the thrombus into the mouth of the catheter;

f) withdrawing the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter through the access catheter and out of the patient;

g) re-advancing the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter over the shaft of the clot capture device and up to the remainder of the thrombus;

h) repeating steps e-g one or more times;

i) removing the system from the patient.

In all cases the method may comprise the step of injecting contrast media through the access catheter and thus on through the distal tubular member of the rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter to assess the degree of obstruction remaining in the vessel prior to further treatment steps. In some cases the method comprises the step of injecting contrast media through the access catheter after step f to assess the degree of obstruction remaining in the vessel, and then removing the clot capture device if adequate revascularisation of the target vessel is observed.

Also described is a catheter for assisting in the retrieval of a clot from a vessel comprising a distal end and a proximal end, a distal segment and a proximal segment and a lumen extending proximal of the distal end and terminating at a transfer port at the proximal end of the distal segment and a flow restrictor located on the outer surface of the catheter distal of the transfer port. In one case the catheter is an aspiration catheter for aspirating a clot. In one embodiment the flow restrictor is actuatable between engaged and disengaged configuration. The catheter may comprise an actuator for selectively engaging and/or disengaging the flow restrictor.

In one case the flow restrictor comprises a framework and a membrane coupled to the framework, the framework being movable by the actuator between an expanded configuration and a retracted configuration.

The aspiration catheter may comprise a proximal flow restrictor proximate the proximal end of the distal segment and a distal flow restrictor spaced distally from the proximal flow restrictor.

In one case the distal end of the catheter comprises a mouth for reception of clot. The mouth may be defined by an expansile tip. In one embodiment the distal segment includes a hinge adjacent to the distal mouth. The hinge may be defined by a region of the distal segment which is configured to have lateral flexibility.

In one case the mouth has an expanded configuration and a retracted configuration. The catheter may comprise a control member for controlling the movement of the mouth between the expanded and retracted configurations.

In one embodiment the mouth comprises a number of segments and the control member is configured to move at least some of the segments. The control member may comprise a draw string or the like.

In another aspect the invention provides a catheter for aspirating a clot in a vessel comprising a distal end and a proximal end, a distal segment and a proximal segment and a lumen extending proximal of the distal end and terminating at a transfer port at the proximal end of the distal segment wherein the distal end of the catheter comprises a mouth for reception of clot. The mouth may be defined by an expansile tip. In one case the catheter has a flow restrictor located on the outer surface of the catheter distal of the transfer port.

Also provided is a system for treating an occlusion in a vessel the system comprising:- a first catheter and a second catheter;

the first catheter comprising a proximal end, a distal end and a lumen extending between the proximal end and the distal end, the lumen of the first catheter further comprising a proximal segment and a distal segment;

the second catheter comprising a distal end and a proximal end, a distal segment and a proximal segment, and a lumen, said lumen extending proximal of the distal end and terminating at a transfer port at the proximal end of the distal segment;

the first catheter being configured to facilitate aspiration through the lumen;

the transfer port being configured to transmit aspiration in the proximal lumen of the first catheter into the lumen of the distal segment of the second catheter and the distal end of the second catheter being configured to receive clot into at least a portion of the lumen of the second catheter.

In one embodiment the system further comprises a flow restrictor between the first catheter and the distal segment of the second catheter, distal of the transfer port. The flow restrictor may be located on the inner surface of the first catheter. Alternatively or additionally the flow restrictor is located on the outer surface of the second catheter.

In one embodiment there is a proximal flow restrictor proximate the proximal end of the distal segment of the second catheter and a distal flow restrictor spaced distally from the proximal flow restrictor.

In one case the distal end of the second catheter comprises a mouth for reception of clot. The mouth may be defined by an expansile tip.

In one embodiment the transfer port comprises a rapid exchange port.

In one case the first catheter is a guide catheter. The second catheter may be an intermediate catheter.

The system may also include a microcatheter which is adapted to be advanced through the first catheter and the second catheter. The system may further comprise a clot engaging device for delivery from the microcatheter. Also provided is a method of removing a clot from a vessel, the method comprising:- providing a guide catheter and an intermediate catheter, the intermediate catheter having a distal mouth and being configured such that it is advancable within the lumen of the guide catheter;

inserting the guide catheter into a first vessel proximal of an occlusion;

advancing the intermediate catheter through the lumen of the guide catheter until the tip of the intermediate catheter extends distal of the guide catheter into a second vessel adjacent to the occlusion;

applying aspiration to the proximal end of the guide catheter;

the intermediate catheter being configured to direct said aspiration through the distal lumen of the intermediate catheter to aspirate the clot into the mouth of said intermediate catheter. The aspiration catheter may comprise a distal end, a proximal end, a distal segment, a proximal segment and a lumen extending proximal of the distal end and terminating at a transfer port at the proximal end of the distal segment.

In one embodiment the method comprises restricting flow between the outside surface of the intermediate catheter and the inside surface of the guide catheter.

In one embodiment the method comprises the step, before or after aspiration, of delivering a microcatheter to the occlusion and deploying a clot capture device from the microcatheter. The method may comprise advancing the microcatheter to the clot, deploying a clot capture device from the microcatheter, retracting the microcatheter to a location proximal of a transport port at the proximal end of a distal segment of the aspiration catheter.

In a further aspect the invention provides method of removing an occlusion from a vessel comprising :- providing a first aspiration catheter and a second aspiration catheter, the second aspiration catheter extending distal of the first aspiration catheter and further comprising a transfer lumen proximal of the distal end of the first aspiration catheter;

inserting the first catheter into a first vessel proximal of the occlusion; advancing the second catheter through the lumen of the first catheter until the tip of the second catheter extends distal of the first catheter into a second vessel and is substantially opposing the occlusion; and

aspirating through the proximal lumen of the first catheter so as to urge the clot into the distal lumen of the second catheter.

The method may comprise restricting flow between the outside surface of the second catheter and the inside surface of the first catheter. The method may comprise the step, before or after aspiration, of delivering a microcatheter to the occlusion and deploying a clot capture device from the microcatheter. In one case the method as comprises the step, prior to aspiration, of retracting the microcatheter to a location proximal of the transfer port. In one embodiment the first aspiration catheter is a guide catheter. In one case the second aspiration catheter is an intermediate catheter.

In one aspect the invention provides a clot receptor device. In one case the device is a catheter which may include rapid exchange features. In one embodiment the device provides a self- expanding aspiration catheter with flow-arrest.

The aspiration assist device has a distal end which expands to seal against the vessel proximal of the clot and provides a large open mouth to receive clot easily without risk of dislodging the clot from the thrombectomy device (if used).

The inner rapid exchange expandable device is delivered through an outer catheter, which may be a conventional intermediate or aspiration catheter or a distal access catheter (DAC). In one case it is a tailored catheter with an extremely trackable distal section for ease of access. This outer catheter trackability is possible because the distal section does not require much axial stiffness, as neither clot not thrombectomy device are retracted directly into it.

The rapid exchange (RX) expanding device may be supplied within the outer catheter (about 15cm proximal of the distal end) and both are delivered together over a microcatheter (or wire) until the outer catheter tip approaches the clot. The inner RX expanding device is advanced to the distal end of the outer, and the outer is then retracted to deploy the self expanding RX device.

The Rx device seals against the vessel wall and against the inner lumen of the outer catheter to allow highly effective aspiration, and its distal end expands to provide a large opening and reception space to receive the target clot and thrombectomy device (if used).

In another similar embodiment the self expanding aspiration catheter has a full length tubular proximal shaft, rather than a rapid exchange shaft, so that it does not require a proximal seal and aspiration can be applied by applying a vacuum force to its proximal hub.

The invention also provides a rapid exchange aspiration catheter.

The catheter provides a proximal seal against guide catheter inner lumen so that aspiration may be applied through the guide taking advantage of the large proximal lumen.

The catheter having deliverability advantages of minimal frictional engagement with guide or microcatheter proximal of exit port.

Retracting the microcatheter just proximal of exit port (rather than completely removing it) creates a large aspiration advantage.

Also provided is a removable microcatheter hub that enables physician to advance a DAC over the microcatheter after the microcatheter (and thrombectomy device) are already in position (as bail, out for example).

Brief Description of the Drawings

Figs. 1 and 2 illustrate a clot receptor device and system according to the invention;

Figs. 3 to 9 illustrate various alternative clot receptors;

Figs. 10 and 11 illustrate a rapid exchange aspiration catheter according to the invention;

Figs. 12 and 13 illustrate various proximal and distal seals;

Figs. 14 to 37 illustrate various alternative distal ends and expansile tips of a clot collector device of the invention;

Fig. 38 illustrates an alternative rapid exchange configuration Figs. 39 to 46 illustrate a removable microcatheter hub according to the invention;

Figs. 47 to 51 illustrate the creation of the distal segment with a continuous and smooth stiffness profile;

Figs. 52 to 55 illustrate a dual lumen aspiration catheter according to the invention;

Figs. 56 to 59 illustrate a clot receptor device and system according to the invention;

Fig. 60 illustrates a clot receptor device according to the invention;

Figs. 61a-c illustrate a clot receptor device and system according to the invention:

Fig. 62 illustrates a portion of a clot receptor device and system according to the invention;

Fig. 63 illustrates a clot receptor device according to the invention;

Figs. 64a-d illustrates an expansile tip of a clot collector device of the invention;

Fig. 65 illustrates a rapid exchange aspiration catheter according to the invention;

Figs. 66a-e illustrate a clot retrieval catheter with expansile radiopaque tip according to the invention;

Figs. 67a-c illustrate a rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter according to the invention;

Figs. 68a-c illustrate aspiration catheter clot receptor devices and associated systems according to the invention;

Figs. 69a-c illustrate a rapid exchange catheter device and system according to the invention;

Figs. 70a-c illustrate an actuated expansile tip catheter device and system according to the invention;

Figs. 71a-b illustrate an expansile tip aspiration catheter with inner tip features according to the invention;

Figs. 72a-b illustrate a multi-point aspiration catheter according to the invention;

Figs. 73a-b illustrate a clot receptor device and system according to the invention;

Figs. 74a-b illustrate a dual extrusion expansile tip catheter according to the invention; Figs. 75a-d illustrate a method of use combining a mechanical thrombectomy device and aspiration catheter according to the invention; and

Figs. 76a-b illustrate an aspiration catheter with flared sealable distal tip according to the invention;

Fig. 77 is an illustration of an intermediate catheter according to the invention; and Fig. 78a, 78b illustrate the distal tip of another catheter according to the invention. Detailed Description of the Drawings

Fig. 1 illustrates a clot receptor device 2 of this invention being used in the retrieval of a clot 1 from the blood vessel of a patient. The clot receptor device 2 comprises an elongate proximal shaft 13 and a tubular expansile distal section 4. The proximal end 5 of the expansile distal section 4 is configured to seal against the inner lumen of a distal section 6 of a catheter 7 through which it is advanced, while the distal end 8 of the expansile distal section is configured to seal against the wall of the blood vessel. The proximal seal against the lumen of the intermediate catheter 7 enables an aspiration force (such as a vacuum or a negative pressure differential, as may be induced by retracting a syringe plunger or through a vacuum pump) to be transmitted through the intermediate catheter 7 to the clot receptor device 2 and thus to the clot. The low profile proximal shaft 13 of the clot receptor device 2 minimizes the space occupied within the intermediate catheter 7, maximising the effectiveness of the transmission of this vacuum / aspiration force to and trough the clot receptor 2. The seal at the proximal end of the clot receptor 2 may be provided by the expansile body of the clot receptor 2 opposing the lumen of the intermediate catheter 7. Other embodiments of this seal include a soft cuff of a foam or fibre construction, or polymer leafs or leaflets, or a balloon cuff, or a stent-like construction with a membrane cover, or combinations of these or other designs

The distal end 8 of the expansile distal section 4 is configured to open to a larger diameter than the proximal end, typically at least 50% larger, and in some embodiments up to 500% larger or more, depending on the relative size of the target blood vessel and the lumen of the catheter 7 through which the device is advanced. The large open mouth of the distal end 8 of the clot receptor 2 provides an easy path for retraction of clot into its interior space, and once within this space the clot can be safely retrieved from the patient. In one embodiment the inner lumen of the clot receptor device 2 has a profiled surface (like a sharkskin, or backward facing teeth) which allows clot to slide easily into the device, but resist the clot from escaping back out of the device.

Figs 2a to 2f illustrate a typical method of use of such a device and system. The method may include at least some of the following steps: Accessing an arterial blood vessel of a patient using conventional means such as an introducer 10 and guide catheter or sheath 11, advancing a microcatheter 12 up to and across a target occlusive clot with the aid of a guidewire 17, removing the guidewire 17 and advancing a mechanical thrombectomy device 15 such as a stent- retriever through the microcatheter 12 to the target clot 1, retracting the microcatheter 12 at least a few cm to deploy a mechanical thrombectomy device 15 within the clot 1, advancing an intermediate catheter 7 containing the clot receptor device 2 up to a position just proximal of the clot 1 (or within the clot, or considerably proximal of the clot if vessel disease or tortuosity makes access difficult), advancing the clot receptor device 2 up the distal end of the intermediate catheter 7 (or up to and out of the catheter and into or over the clot), retracting the intermediate catheter 7 a short distance to deploy the clot receptor device 2, aspirating through the intermediate catheter 7 using a syringe or pump to suck blood and the target clot into the clot receptor device 2, withdrawing the mechanical thrombectomy device 15 into the clot receptor 2 while continuing to aspirate, withdrawing the clot receptor device 2 and its contents at least partially into the lumen of the intermediate catheter 7, withdrawing the intermediate catheter 7, clot receptor device 2, clot and mechanical thrombectomy device 15 through the guide or sheath 11 and out of the patient.

Many variants of this method are possible. For example it may be desirable to withdraw the clot 1 and mechanical thrombectomy device 15 through the clot receptor 2, intermediate catheter 7 and guide 11 and out of the patient while leaving the intermediate catheter 7 and clot receptor 2 in place. This allows the physician to retain a protective seal in the vessel to prevent the escape of any clot particles that may be dislodged, and also preserves a means of quick and easy access back to the target site with a microcatheter and thrombectomy device in case additional passes are needed to completely clear the vessel.

Another method variant involves removing the clot receptor device 2 and thrombectomy device 15 together through the intermediate catheter 7, leaving the intermediate catheter 7 in place for easy re-access to the target site.

Yet another method variant involves using the clot receptor device 2 as the primary clot retrieval tool, without the aid of a mechanical thrombectomy device such as a stent-retriever. The clot receptor 2 is configured to expand and seal against the vessel wall adjacent the proximal end of the clot, thus aspirating through the intermediate catheter 7 and clot receptor 2 provides a highly effective suction force to draw the clot into the clot receptor 2. If the clot passes through the clot receptor 2 and into the intermediate catheter 7 it may be aspirated through the intermediate catheter 7 and right out of the patient. If the clot is too large or too firm to pass through the clot receptor 2 then the clot receptor 2 may be withdrawn into the intermediate catheter 7. Because the clot receptor 2 has a smooth and funnel shaped exterior it can be easily retracted into the intermediate catheter 7 even when containing a bulky and/or firm clot.

The distal end 8 of the clot receptor device 2 is intended to open up upon exiting the catheter through which it is delivered to provide a large open mouth approximately equal in size to the inner diameter of the vessel in which it is located and provide a seal against this vessel or significant flow restriction such that when a suction force is applied through the clot receptor 2 this force causes blood and clot distal of the receptor 2 to flow into the receptor 2 rather than blood proximal of the receptor 2. This flow occurs because the pressure inside the clot receptor 2 is lower than that outside (distal and proximal) of the clot receptor 2. If the seal were not present two flow paths into the clot receptor 2 would exist and the less restricted proximal flow path would dominate, reducing the effectiveness of the clot retraction.

In order to adequately seal against the vessel wall the clot receptor 2 should have either a) a high radial force or hoop strength so that the pressure gradient created by the application of suction/aspiration does not collapse the clot receptor or create a flow path past it or b) a seal construction such that the presence of a pressure gradient across the clot receptor 2 serves to tighten the seal rather than reduce it. The geometry and construction of the clot receptor sealing end should be such that it can conform well to the vessel wall, which may be not be effectively circular (such as when close to bifurcations for example, or when inclined at an angle to the vessel wall).

Thus one embodiment of the distal portion of a clot receptor may comprise a self-expanding frame with a relatively non-porous cover, such that the cover prevents any significant passage of blood through the wall of the clot receptor, and the self-expanding frame has sufficient radial or hoop strength to resist the pressure gradient created by the application of suction/aspiration. The cover may be a polymeric membrane, or may be a woven or braided or knitted structure. In one embodiment the membrane is a polymer membrane, preferably with a high elastic strain limit and a low modulus to permit its expansion by a low radial force frame structure. A preferred membrane is a polyurethane membrane, which might be extruded or blow moulded or ideally dip coated directly onto the frame. The membrane may be coated with a low friction coating such as a hydrophobic silicone or a hydrophilic material. In one embodiment the membrane is a hydrophilic material itself, comprising a hydrogel with sufficient thickness and modulus to retain its structure under the force of aspiration. Other suitable materials for this cover include PTFE, ETFE and PFA. Materials such as PET, UHMWPE, PET and PEN would be particularly suitable for use in the making of a cover that is woven, braided, knitted or otherwise formed from fibres

Another embodiment of the distal portion of a clot receptor may comprise a combination of a self-expanding frame with a relatively non-porous membrane cover, and a plurality of flexible leaflets or vanes disposed around its outer circumference in a manner similar to that of a leaflet valve. In yet other embodiments the additional seal provided by these flexible leaflets is instead provided by an outer cuff, and this outer cuff may comprise a compressible material such as a foam or a hydrogel or a fibre bundle or a shaped polymer.

In yet another embodiment the expansion of the distal end of the clot receptor may be actuatable by the user, by retraction of a pull wire within the device shaft for example, or by inflation of a balloon cuff. Some of the various embodiments of the distal end of the clot receptor are illustrated in Figs. 3 to 9.

Fig. 3 depicts one embodiment of the distal end of the clot receptor comprising a stent-like self- expanding frame 25 with an outer membrane covering 27. A proximal shaft 21 is connected to the frame and membrane at a proximal entry port 20. The proximal end 24 of the expansile section is configured to gently appose the wall of a catheter through which it is delivered, while the distal end 23 is configured to expand and appose the vessel wall, creating a large opening 22 into the internal reception space. The frame structure 25 is in one embodiment a Nitinol structure laser cut from a tube or sheet, and in another embodiment is a wire structure, wound or braided from Nitinol or stainless steel or other such biocompatible metallic material as are commonly used in the construction of stents or snares. The membrane 27 may comprise a lip 26 which is folded over and wrapped inside the frame 25.

Figs 4 and 5 depict a typical embodiment of the distal end of the clot receptor. Fig. 4 shows a clot receptor 30 housed in an outer intermediate catheter 31, positioned in a vessel 32. The distal end 35 of the clot receptor is folded to wrap it into a suitable profile to fit into the lumen of the intermediate catheter 31. Fig. 5 shows the deployed clot receptor upon retraction of the intermediate catheter 31, such that distal end 35 has expanded and is contacting the vessel wall 32, and proximal end 34 is sealing against the inner lumen of the intermediate catheter 31. In another embodiment the distal end 35 expands to a smaller diameter than that of the vessel, but a larger diameter than that of the intermediate catheter.

The intermediate catheter inner lumen may be as small as 0.75mm or as large as 2.0mm, but is preferably between 1.0mm and 1.7mm. The clot receptor distal end may be configured to expand to a diameter equal to or slightly larger than the target vessel in order to provide a seal, or to a diameter slightly smaller than the target vessel in cases where a low profile, deliverable device is a higher priority than a perfect seal. In one embodiment configured for use in middle cerebral arteries of the brain, the clot receptor distal end is configured to expand to a diameter of between 2mm and 4mm. In another embodiment such as might be used in the internal carotid artery, the clot receptor distal end is configured to expand to a diameter of between 4mm and 7mm.

Figs 6a and 6b illustrate the collapsed (for delivery) and expanded forms of the distal end of a clot receptor 40 of this invention. In this case the mechanism of collapse for delivery through an intermediate catheter is a creasing and folding mechanism, similar to that used to wrap angioplasty balloons. The material of the distal expansile end 42 is configured into pleats or folds 41 to wrap it efficiently into delivery form.

Figs 7a and 7b illustrate the collapsed (for delivery) and expanded forms of the distal end of a clot receptor 50 of this invention. In this case the mechanism of collapse for delivery through an intermediate catheter is a rolling mechanism, with an unrolling mechanism taking place for expansion. The distal expansile end 52 exists in its minimum strain state when fully expanded as shown in Fig. 7b. It is configured with a seam 51 running from its distal most end to a point distal of its proximal end. The seam allows the self-expanding clot receptor to be rolled up like a cigarette paper to assume a lower profile shape for delivery.

Figs 8a and 8b illustrate the collapsed (for delivery) and expanded forms of a frame 60 of the distal end of a clot receptor of this invention. This frame may be formed from Nitinol or another material with a sufficient elastic strain limit such that this limit is not exceeded when the device is collapsed for delivery through an intermediate catheter. In one embodiment the frame is laser cut from a Nitinol tube or sheet, and comprises struts 61 connected at crowns 62. The distal end of the frame comprises terminal crowns 63, which may be formed with atraumatic ends of a higher radius of curvature than that used for the more proximal crowns. The frame may be covered with a polymeric membrane as described earlier. Fig. 9 illustrates the expanded form of a frame 70 of the distal end of a clot receptor of this invention, which is similar to frame 60 of Fig. 8 but is formed from wires 73 rather than cut from a tube or sheet. One advantage of such a structure is that non superelastic materials (such as SS, MP35N or other materials commonly used in the manufacture of balloon expandable stents) can be used in its construction. This is because a much lower strain is induced in the frame in moving from its expanded to collapsed state, because the wires are free to move and slide relative to one another, even at crossover points 72. The wires form crowns 71 of a large and gentle radius at the distal end of the frame, rendering the tip of the device atraumatic to a blood vessel.

Referring to Figs. 10 and 11 there is illustrated an aspiration catheter 101 according to the invention. In Fig. 11a the aspiration catheter 101 is illustrated as part of a clot retrieval system for retrieval of a clot 110. The clot retrieval system further comprises a clot engaging device 100, a microcatheter 109 through which the clot engaging device is delivered and a guide catheter 108 through which the aspiration catheter 100 and microcatheter 109 are delivered. The aspiration catheter 101 comprises a distal segment 90 and a proximal segment 91. The distal segment 90 comprises a distal end provided with a distal tip 112 and a proximal end provided by a transfer port 105. A lumen of the distal segment 90 extends proximal of the distal end 112 and terminates at the transfer port 105. The proximal segment 91 extends from the distal segment 90 and in this case is provided by a proximal shaft 106. A flow restrictor 102 is located on the outer surface of the aspiration catheter 101 distal of the transfer port 105. The aspiration catheter 101 provides a proximal seal 102 against a guide catheter inner lumen 103 so that aspiration may be applied through the guide catheter 108 and thus take advantage of a large proximal lumen. Fig.10 shows a simplified view of a distal region of the system, illustrating more clearly how the aspiration catheter flow restrictor 102 interacts with the inner lumen of the guide catheter 108. The guide catheter 108 may also have a flow restrictor component such as the inflatable balloon portion 104 shown in this illustration. The aspiration catheter 101 is a rapid exchange (RX) catheter in which the exit port 105 defines a transfer port for aspiration and provides a deliverability advantage of minimal frictional engagement with the guide catheter 108 proximal of the exit port 105. In some cases a microcatheter 109 may be provided through which a clot capture device 100 is delivered. Retracting the microcatheter 109 just proximal of the exit port 105 (rather than completely removing it) creates large aspiration advantage. In one case the microcatheter 109 and the Rx aspiration catheter 101 are introduced together into the guide catheter 108.

The guide wire and microcatheter 109 are then advanced across the clot 110. The guidewire can be removed and a clot retrieval device such as a stent retriever device 100 is introduced.

Using the microcatheter 109 for support, the Rx aspiration catheter 101 can be forwarded to a position proximal to the clot 110 by pushing the proximal shaft 106 or handle into the guide catheter 108. The stentriever device 100 can be deployed by retracting the micro catheter 109. The Rx aspiration catheter 101 can then be forwarded to contact the clot 110 or be positioned just proximal to or at the proximal face of the clot 110. The microcatheter 109 can then be retracted sufficiently to be proximal of the Rx port 105 of the Rx aspiration catheter 101. This facilitates an increased lumen for aspiration without the necessity of removing the microcatheter 109 fully from the intermediate / aspiration catheter.

Aspiration can be applied to the lumen of the guide catheter 108 with a manual syringe 111 or vacuum pump. This aspiration is directed to and effective at the distal tip 12 of the Rx aspiration catheter 101 due to the presence of the flow restrictor or seal 102 between the outer surface of the Rx aspiration catheter 101 and the inner guide catheter 108. This seals the lumen between the outside of the Rx aspiration catheter 101 and the inner lumen 103 of the guide catheter 108 and prevents backflow of blood into the tip of the guide catheter 108 which would reduce the effectiveness of the aspiration. The seal 102 may not need to stop flow in the lumen completely but needs to restrict flow sufficiently so as not to have a significant effect on aspiration performance. This seal 102 can be generated in a number of ways such as those described in Figs 12 to 131. In some cases the seal 102 is located on the inside surface of the guide catheter 108 and/or on the outside surface of the aspiration catheter 101.

The Rx aspiration catheter 101 is constructed of a proximal handle (not shown) to facilitate grip and a proximal shaft 106 constructed from a wire or tube formed preferably from Nitinol, stainless steel, PEEK or some other similar material. An additional seal may be provided on a proximal haemostasis valve to assist in sealing against the proximal shaft 106. The material of the shaft 106 has high compressive and tensile strength and may have a low friction coating or jacket to minimise insertion and retraction forces. The low friction coating or jacket could be formed from PTFE, HDPE or a similar material.

The Rx exit port 105 on the aspiration catheter 101 can facilitate forwarding a microcatheter 109 through the port 105 and through the distal section 90 of the Rx catheter 101 prior to insertion into the guide catheter 108. The Rx exit port 105 may be formed in a funnel shape to make it easier to forward a microcatheter 109 into the port even in position in the guide catheter 108. The port 105 may be formed from a moulded component or from the tubing of the distal section 90 of the catheter 101.

The distal section of the Rx aspiration catheter 101 has good push and trackability characteristics to allow it to be forwarded to the target location. Therefore it may be constructed of one or more materials to give a reducing stiffness profile along the length. A braided wire or coil wire construction or combination of both may be used to improve compressive strength and track ability. Linear wire supports running parallel to the tube axis may also be used. A top layer of low friction material may be applied to the distal section of the catheter 101 or alternatively a hydrophilic coating or silicon oil coating may be applied to the surface. The inner lining of the distal section of the catheter 101 consists of PTFE or similar low friction material to minimise insertion and retraction forces. The seal 102 on the outer surface of the Rx aspiration catheter 101 distal section 90 prevents or significantly reduces blood flow travelling from the guide catheter distal tip 113 to the Rx port 105 of the Rx aspiration catheter 101 as shown in Fig. 12a. Various embodiments of proximal seals 102 are illustrated in Figs. 12 to 131. In another embodiment of the device shown in Fig. 12b an additional seal 114 is provided on the distal end of the catheter 101 to seal between the Rx catheter and the target vessel. This seal 114 is spaced distally from the proximal flow restrictor 102 and occludes blood flow in the vessel and improves aspiration effectiveness without the need for a balloon guide catheter. The seal 114 can be constructed in a similar manner to those shown in Figs 12a to 131. The seal 102 can be formed from an outer sleeve on the catheter which may be smooth or have a grooved or profiled surface 116 as shown in Fig. 13a. Fig. 13j shows a profiled surface with a spiral groove 125. The seal could also be formed from one or more moulded rings with a sealing lip or "O" ring profile 117 as shown in Fig. 13b. It could also be formed from an inflatable balloon 115 which is inflated by injecting saline through a lumen in the shaft and catheter as shown in Figs 12a, 12b and 13g.

In another embodiment illustrated in Fig. 13d the seal 102 can be constructed of fibres in a brush / bristle configuration 119 or from a fibre mesh 123 formed of PET fibres or similar material as shown in Fig. 13h. Similarly the seal could be formed of a sponge material 121 which is compressed when inserted into the lumen of the guide catheter 108 as shown in Fig. 13f.

In a further embodiment the seal 102 could be provided by a body 124 formed from a hydrophilic 124 or similar material which swells and increases in diameter when in contact with saline or blood. The seal 102 may also be formed by having a close tolerance clearance fit between the outer diameter of the distal end of the Rx aspiration catheter 101 and the inner diameter of the guide catheter 103. In another embodiment, the seal 102 is formed from a lip 118 or membrane 120 which restricts flow particularly in one direction as shown in Figs 13c and 13e.

In another embodiment of the seal 102 shown in Figs 13k and 131, the occlusion between the Rx aspiration catheter 101 and the guide catheter 108 is achieved through longitudinal compression of the aspiration catheter 101. This can be achieved by having an expansile section 127 which increases in diameter when the catheter is under compression. The compression can be a result of retrieving clot 110 and the stentriever device 100 into the tip 112 or may be manually actuated through a pull wire 126. This pull wire 126 may run through a separate lumen from the proximal end of the device as shown in the cross sectional view A-A in Fig. 131.

The clot 110 and stentriever type device 100 can be fully or partially retrieved into the Rx aspiration catheter 101 as controlled by the physician and depending on the resistance felt by the user or clot obstruction of the lumen as indicated by an increase in vacuum / loss of suction. The expansile tip 112 of the Rx aspiration catheter 101 facilitates aspiration and retrieval of the clot 110 and stentriever device 100 by expanding under load to reduce the retraction force and lessen the risk of scraping clot off the surface of the stentriever device 100. The expansile tip 112 can also partially or fully occlude the vessel providing flow arrest improving aspiration effectiveness.

The expansile tip 112 can be formed in a number of ways and various embodiments are shown in Figs 14 to 37.

In one embodiment the expansile tip 112 can be formed from a co-extrusion of materials with different properties such as a soft expansile polymer 131 co-extruded with a higher modulus polymer 130 to provide longitudinal support. A fully expansile ring 132 could then be connected to this tip as shown in Fig. 14. The tip 112 may also include one or multiple metallic wire supports 133 as shown in Figs 15 and 24. In another embodiment shown in Fig. 18 the tip has a skived profile to increase contact area with the clot during retrieval or aspiration. The tip may be formed with holes 134 or perforations 137 to allow it to split and change shape when a device 100 and clot 110 is retracted into the tip as shown in Figs 16 and 17. These features can be combined with tip constructions containing materials of different durometers such as shown in Figs 16, 17, 18, 21 and 25. In these embodiments the tip materials 143, 136, 146, 151, 164 have a lower durometer and are more expansile than the support materials 135, 144, 145, 150, 165. These support materials may be embedded within the wall of the tubing or may be on the inner or outer surface. They may also be formed in a spline, coil, stripe, 'U' shape or other configuration to provide longitudinal support to the expansile material to prevent it collapsing or buckling under compressive load, such as occurs during retrieval of a clot or stentriever device, or during insertion through a guide or access catheter. Fig. 19 shows another embodiment where multiple holes 139 produce a lattice or framework in the tip. Single or multiple protrusions or "teeth" 141 may also be applied to the inner surface 142 at the distal tip to improve grip on the clot as shown in Fig. 20.

The expansile tip may be pre shaped to form a flared profile (Fig. 22a) or a tapered profile as shown in Fig. 22b. Alternatively the tip shape may be a combination of these profiles such as bulbous or 'pear' shaped as shown in Fig. 23a to 23d. In the configuration shown in Fig. 23a the tip 160 has an increased diameter larger than the proximal catheter diameter 161 which then tapers to a reduced diameter 162 for ease of insertion. In the configuration shown in Fig. 23b the tip 166 has an increased diameter larger than the proximal catheter diameter 161 which then tapers to a reduced diameter 167, however the reduced diameter 167 is still larger than the proximal catheter diameter 161. This tip configuration provides benefits of improved aspiration effectiveness and reduced retrieval force but also low insertion force and trackability benefits due to the distal tip radius or taper 167. The tip radius 167 also prevents the tip snagging on a bifurcation on insertion, such as at the ostium of the ophthalmic artery in the internal carotid artery. Fig. 23c shows how the tip 160 elongates during insertion through a guide or access catheter 108, while Fig. 23d shows the tip 160 expanding to accommodate the retrieval of a clot 110 and stentriever device 100. The profiled tips can also be constructed using multiple materials of varying durometer and expansile characteristics.

The expansile tip 112 could also be profiled and contain one or more slot cuts 170 to facilitate expansion as shown in Figs 26, 29 and 30. Other embodiments of profiled tips to facilitate expansion and retrieval of the clot 110 and stentriever device 100 are shown in Figs 27 and 28.

In another embodiment of the Rx aspiration catheter tip 112 shown in Fig. 31, the distal end of the tip has a collar 171 which tracks closely over the guidewire. This helps direct the catheter over the guidewire to the target location reducing the risk of snagging. The tip configuration shown in Fig. 32 has a flattened section 173 which contains a large number of aspiration pores 174, and aspiration windows 172. This design potentially increases the contact area with the clot improving grip where the catheter is used without a stentriever device. Fig. 33 shows an end view of Fig. 32 with the arrows indicating the direction of blood flow.

Referring to Figs. 34 to 35 there is illustrated a catheter with an expandable distal end 180, which is expanded by means of a lifebelt shaped annular balloon 181 at or adjacent its distal end. The balloon is inflated by injecting a fluid through an inflation lumen 182 running from the proximal to distal end of the device. The distal end of the catheter has a ring of petals 183 which act as a seal or occluder to limit the volume of blood flowing from proximal of the tip into the catheter, when aspirating through the catheter. The petals 183 may be formed from a polymeric material. Fig. 34a shows the tip in the collapsed configuration and Fig. 34b shows the tip when the annular balloon 181 is inflated. Fig. 35 shows an additional embodiment where the catheter has an Rx construction with the inflation lumen 182 running through the shaft to the proximal end of the device.

In another embodiment of the catheter tip 112, shown in Figs 36a and 36b, the tip 184 is constructed so that it can invert as the stentriever device 100 and clot 110 are retrieved into the catheter. This can reduce the retraction force and constrain the clot so fragments are not released during the retrieval process. Fig. 36b shows the tip after inversion.

Referring to Figs. 37a and 37b there is illustrated a clot retrieval catheter with a self-expanding distal tip 190 that is constrained by a tapered cap 191 for ease of deliver and atraumatic access to a target site. The cap component 191 can be retracted to allow the catheter mouth 192 to expand, creating a large opening to accept clot or other material into its lumen. The cap component 191 has a distal end whose outer diameter is ideally lower than that of the catheter shaft immediately proximal of the cap, and an inner lumen sized to enable the device to be advanced over a thrombectomy device shaft and microcatheter. The cap component 191 may also comprise a guide tube 193 to aid the device in moving smoothly over a thrombectomy device shaft or microcatheter.

In another embodiment of the device shown in Fig. 38 the distal section of the catheter 194 is shortened so that distance X is typically between 5 and 50 mm long. This device can be forwarded over the shaft of the stentriever device 100 to the target location to facilitate partial or full retrieval of the stentriever 100 into the expansile tip 112. In this embodiment the distal section 194 is forwarded out of the guide catheter 108 and does not translate aspiration to the distal tip 112, but has improved trackability and access performance to reach the target vessels due to reduced friction and pushability of the wire shaft. The short length distal section 194 and tip 112 are connected to a shaft 106 constructed from a wire or tube formed preferably from Nitinol, stainless steel, PEEK or some other similar material. The shaft material has high compressive and tensile strength and has a low friction coating or jacket to minimise insertion and retraction forces. The expansile tip 112 can be constructed in a similar manner to those shown in Figs 14 to 37.

The Rx aspiration catheter 101, microcatheter 109, stentriever device 100 and clot 110 can be retracted as a unit back to the tip of the guide catheter 113 and then fully into the guide catheter 108. The guide or access catheter 108 may also have an expansile tip 113 to facilitate retraction of the devices and clot, with a reduced force and lower risk of dislodging the clot from the devices. This expansile tip 113 on the guide catheter may be constructed in a similar manner to those shown in Figs 14 to 37. Likewise the expansile tip 112 construction and seal 102 construction shown in Figs 12 to 37 may also be applied to a standard length intermediate or aspiration catheter. The Rx aspiration catheter 101, microcatheter 109, stentriever device 100 and clot 110 can then be retrieved from the guide catheter 108 and removed fully from the patient. Referring to Figs. 39 to 46 there is illustrated a removable microcatheter hub according to the invention. The removable hub enables a physician to advance an intermediate or access catheter over the microcatheter after the microcatheter (and thrombectomy device) are already in position (as bail out for example). It is not possible with a standard microcatheter to forward an intermediate or access catheter over the proximal end as the fixed hub is in the way, therefore the standard microcatheter has to be removed to introduce an intermediate catheter.

Use of a microcatheter with a removable hub that facilitates the use of an extension wire facilitates improved control on the microcatheter position as the intermediate catheter is introduced.

In Figs. 39 to 46 the following numerals are used:

300 detachable hub

301 microcatheter shaft

302 strain relief element extending from microcatheter hub

303 internal connector (see Figs. 42/43 for detail)

304 end of microcatheter shaft which has detached

305 extendable shaft for intermediate catheter exchange

306 internal thread on microcatheter hub

307 microcatheter connector

308 O-ring seal

309 external thread on microcatheter connector

310 bond

311 closed end to prevent outbleed

312 bond

313a extension wire

313b extension wire housing

314 laser cut hypotube which acts as a core reinforcement for microcatheter

315 stiff proximal shaft so that it can be gripped and pulled/twisted during microcatheter removal 316 compressible O-ring which locks the microcatheter into recess incorporated into moulded catheter hub

317 detachable hub

318 extension tube

319 spring clip - e.g. stainless steel or Nitinol

320 injection moulded hub

Dl 0.021 inch ID approx.

D2 0.029 inch OD approx.

D3 0.039 inch OD approx.

D4 0.045 inch OD approx.

Fig. 39 shows the microcatheter hub 300 assembled with the microcatheter shaft 301. Fig. 40 shows the microcatheter shaft after detachment and Fig. 41 shows the mating end of the extendable shaft 305. By connecting the extendable shaft 305 to the microcatheter shaft 301 the working length of the catheter is increased to facilitate forwarding an intermediate or access catheter over the microcatheter while maintaining positional control. The extendable shaft 305 can then be removed and the detachable hub reconnected to the microcatheter. Fig. 42 illustrates the construction of the microcatheter connector 307 and detachable hub 300. The detachable hub 300 can be screwed onto the microcatheter connector 307 due to thread 309 on the connector and the mating thread 306 on the hub. 'O' ring 308 prevents any blood loss or air ingress between the connector 307 and the hub 300 when tightened. Fig. 43 shows a section view of an embodiment of the extendable shaft 305 which utilises an extension wire 313a and extension wire hub 313b. The extension wire 313a and hub 313b are shown screwed onto the microcatheter shaft 30 land connector 307.

Figs 44 to 46 show another embodiment of a detachable hub where the microcatheter shaft 301 is connected to the detachable hub 317 by a compressible 'O' ring 316. The 'O' ring 316 sits in a groove on the moulded hub 320 which is connected to the microcatheter shaft 301. The 'O' ring is compressed by rotating part of the housing 321 on the detachable hub 317. The extension tube 318 can be pushed over the moulded hub 320 on the microcatheter shaft 301 after the hub 317 has been removed. The extension tube 318 is then held in position by the spring clip 319 engaging with the groove on the moulded hub 320.

Figs. 47 to 50 illustrate a method of manufacture of a large diameter aspiration catheter. The aspiration catheter is highly trackable so that it can be navigated to tortuous/distal cerebrovascular location.

Fig. 47 is a graph of lateral stiffness with distance from the tip. Fig. 48 illustrated a conventional diagram in which different tubular segments 200, 201, 202, 203, 204 are of different materials. The segments are used to create a stepped material stiffness profile (gradually increasing modulus/share hardness).

Fig. 49 illustrates a distal segment according to the invention in which a smooth stiffness profile is created by blending elements 205, 206 of different modulus. For example, tapered tubes 205, 206 (Figs. 50, 51) may be placed on a mandrel overlapping each other and use heat to cause them to melt and flow into each other. The resultant tube may then be applied to a threaded or spiral wire or unreinforced base, or use as a stand-alone catheter. Referring to Figs. 52 to 55 there is illustrated a dual lumen aspiration catheter to aid with aspiration and prevent the lumen of the catheter getting blocked with clot.

Lumen A - a smaller diameter lumen can be used to retrieve the device into and cause the clot to shear off. The distal end of Lumen A could be flush with or recessed from the distal tip of Lumen B.

Lumen B - the larger lumen would have aspiration constantly applied to it, to aspirate the clot that is sheared off the device when it is retrieved into the smaller lumen (Lumen A). The smaller lumen A may have an inner diameter to facilitate the introduction of a microcatheter through the lumen. The microcatheter can then be inserted through this lumen and across the clot as per standard procedure. The stentriever device can then be deployed across the clot. Retrieving the stentriever and clot into the catheter causes the clot to be sheared off the stentriever within the aspiration catheter. This configuration prevents the clot snagging on the struts of the stentriever device and blocking the aspiration lumen. The larger diameter lumen may have a diameter of about 0.058 inch and may have aspiration applied to it to aspirate the clot as the device is being retrieved into the smaller diameter lumen. One clot receptor catheter tip according to the invention the clot receptor tip is expanded by means of a balloon, which may be attached to the shaft of a thrombectomy device, or to a microcatheter, or may be integral to the clot receptor catheter itself.

One embodiment of such a device is shown in these Figs 56 to 59. The device comprises a thrombectomy device 400 with an inflation lumen 402 extending from the proximal end of the shaft to a balloon 401 at the distal end of the shaft, and an clot receptor catheter 404 with a flexible expandable distal section 405. The thrombectomy device 400 is expanded in the clot 403. Either the thrombectomy device and clot are then retrieved towards the clot receptor catheter 404 or the clot receptor catheter is advanced towards the thrombectomy device. The balloon 401 at the distal end of the device is positioned so that the distal end is in line with the distal end of an intermediate catheter. The balloon is expanded to plastically deform 406 the distal end of the clot receptor catheter and then deflated. The resultant open mouth 407 of the clot receptor catheter allows the entire device and clot to be retrieved into the intermediate catheter. This prevents loss of clot on retrieval into a small lumen of a conventional intermediate catheter. The expansile distal portion 405 of the clot receptor catheter may be formed of a polymeric material with a low modulus and a high elongation strain to break of greater than 100%, and ideally greater than 300%. It may also comprise a support structure of a metallic material such as stainless steel which can be plastically deformed by the balloon and can then retain its deformed shape with sufficient integrity to accept the thrombectomy device and clot.

The balloon expandable tip of the invention can be applied to any catheter - standard or rapid exchange, and can be used with or without a thrombectomy device to aid in the aspiration and/or retrieval of clot from blood vessels. Fig. 60 illustrates an RX clot removal catheter 500. This device 500 is very similar in design and in use to that shown in figs l la-d, except that the element 504 is an actuatable flow restrictor or seal, which can be selectively engaged or disengaged by the operator. The catheter 500 comprises a proximal elongate shaft 501 and a distal generally tubular portion 502. The distal portion 502 comprises reinforcement member 507 and a polymeric cover member 510, and extends from an entry/exit port 517 to a distal clot reception tip 503. The cover member 510 may comprise multiple layers and segments. A low friction inner layer may be employed as a lining for the lumen of the tubular section, a highly compliant membrane 506 may be employed to cover the actuatable flow restrictor / seal region, and a low modulus polymer may be employed to cover the main tubular body. The distal end or tip 503 may comprise any of the designs shown elsewhere in this document. In a preferred embodiment the tip 503 is connected to the distal end of the tubular portion 502 by a hinge element 511. This hinge element may simply be a short region of the tubular section configured to have a high degree of lateral flexibility relative to the rest of the tubular section. This flexibility may be achieved by having a short region of the tubular section without any reinforcement element 507, or alternatively the reinforcement at that region could be a highly flexible reinforcement such as a generally spiral metallic coil.

The actuatable flow restrictor or seal 504 comprises a framework 508, with a membrane covering 506. The framework 508 is at least partially collapsible by retraction of actuation member 512, which runs through proximal elongate shaft 501 and is connected at its proximal end to slider element 514, which is in turn slidably constrained within handle 513, and coupled to spring element 515. Proximal elongate shaft 501 may comprise a tube of stainless steel, Nitinol or other metallic or high modulus polymeric material, and may contain a liner in order to provide a low friction internal surface against which the actuation member 512 may slide. The shaft 501 may be tapered or may be slotted in order to provide a smooth transition in stiffness over its length. In the embodiment shown a portion of the shaft material has been removed from the distal portion 516 of shaft 501 in order to provide an exit port for actuation member 512 and to provide a connection member to the proximal end of tubular portion 502. This distal portion 516 may also be flattened, which may assist in creating a similar curvature to that of the tubular portion 502 so that the two portions can be smoothly joined together by welding, soldering, bonding or other appropriate method of fixation. The main body of the shaft may also have an oval or somewhat flattened profile, as this may be beneficial in allowing the user to seal a haemostasis valve around the shaft and a microcatheter when the two are side by side in the guide/sheath as shown previously in Fig. 11a.

The reinforcement member 507 may be formed from a metal (such as stainless steel or Nitinol or MP35N or other suitable alloy) or from a high modulus polymer material. In one embodiment (as shown) the reinforcent is formed from a tube from which sections 509 have been cut away to add lateral flexibility while maintaining column and hoop strength. In the catheter illustrated in Fig. 60 the actuatable seal 504 is located adjacent to the proximal end of the distal tubular section, where it also forms the exit/entry port to the proximal end of the distal tubular section 502, but it could be positioned more distally in other variants of the invention. Once the catheter has been advanced to a position proximal of or adjacent the target clot the seal can be actuated to effect a seal between the proximal portion of the tubular section of the RX clot removal catheter and the inner lumen of the guide catheter. A vacuum force can then be applied to the proximal end of the guide catheter using a syringe or pump. This vacuum force will create a low pressure region inside the guide catheter which will extend (via the seal) into the distal tubular portion of the RX clot removal catheter. This low pressure will create a pressure gradient at the tip of RX clot removal catheter which will encourage the flow of clot into the catheter.

In some scenarios, such as when retrieving a firm clot with a high fibrin content, it may not be possible to aspirate the clot fully into and through the RX clot removal catheter, and the clot may become lodged at the tip of the catheter. In such a case it may be necessary to remove the RX clot removal catheter with the clot through the guide catheter and out of the patient. It may be desirable to create reverse flow in the cerebral vasculature during this retrieval process in order to prevent the escape and distal migration of any fragments of the clot being retrieved. This can be done by disengaging the RX clot removal catheter seal so that the low pressure zone is redirected into the distal lumen of the guide catheter. Thus pressure gradient between the blood in the cerebral vasculature and the fluid within the guide catheter lumen causes a flow of the blood from the high pressure region to the low pressure region. The seal as shown can also serve to create a guiding feature to assist the advancement of another device into the tubular distal section of the clot removal catheter. This might be advantageous if for example the catheter was used as a primary clot debulking tool - so that it was advanced to a target clot and aspiration was applied to it through the guide catheter to remove the occlusive clot but was not successful in removing all of the clot. In this case a microcatheter (and guidewire if desired) could be advanced through the RX clot removal catheter and across the remaining clot so that a thrombectomy device could then be advanced through the microcatheter. The thrombectomy device and remaining clot could then be withdrawn into the RX clot removal catheter (under aspiration if desired) to complete the recanalisation of the patient's vessel. Figures 61a - 61c illustrate a method of use of the RX clot removal catheter 500. This catheter can be used in a similar manner and for a similar purpose to catheter 101 illustrated previously in figures 10 and 11, except that the seal / flow restrictor of catheter 500 can be selectively activated or deactivated by the user. The catheter can be used as the primary clot retrieval device as shown in figures 61a-c, or as an adjunctive device as shown in figures l la-d. Fig. 61a shows the catheter 500 advanced through a guide catheter 550 towards a target clot 555 located in blood vessel 554. In this case the catheter 550 has an external flow restrictor in the form of a balloon at its distal end. The method of use of such a system could entail: Accessing the patient's vasculature using standard methods, advancing a guiding catheter or sheath 550 to a region proximal of the target occlusive clot 555, advancing the RX clot removal catheter 500 through the guide/sheath to a location proximal or adjacent to or within the target clot as shown in Fig. 61a (which may be achieved with the aid of a microcatheter and/or guidewire and/or thrombectomy device), activating the proximal flow restrictor/seal 504 of the catheter 500 to connect the lumens of the two catheters, inflating the external balloon (if present and if desired) at the end of the guide/sheath, aspirating using a syringe 556 or vacuum pump (not shown) through the a connector 551 attached to the proximal end of the guide/sheath 550 so that a pressure gradient is created which sucks blood and clot into the mouth 503 of the Rx clot removal catheter 500 and through the catheter 500 and the guide/sheath 550 and into the syringe as shown in Fig. 61b. If any clot remains caught in the end of the catheter tip 503 (as may happen if the clot has a significant organized fibrin component such as may occur in clots originating from a heart valve or an atrial appendage for example) it may be necessary to withdraw the catheter 500 and the trapped clot 555 together through guide/sheath 550 and out of the patient as shown in Fig. 61c. In such a scenario the flow restrictor/seal 504 may be de-activated so as to enable a vacuum force applied by the syringe to the guide/sheath to be transmitted to the distal end 553 of the guide/sheath and thus create flow reversal and draw blood and any clot fragments 557 back into the tip of the guide/sheath as the captured clot is retracted. Fig. 62 depicts another system of this invention which functions in a similar manner to the previously described Rx catheter systems, but in this case the flow restrictor or seal between the inside of the guide/sheath 600 and the outside of the Rx catheter 603 is created by a sealing element 602 attached to the inside of the guide/sheath 600. This sealing element 602 may comprise an inflatable balloon, similar to the external flow restricting balloon 601 shown on the outside of the guide/sheath.

Fig. 63 depicts another system of this invention in which an Rx clot retrieval catheter 650 has two flow restrictor / seal elements 651 and 652. The more proximal restrictor 651 is used to restrict flow between the Rx catheter 650 and the guide catheter 655 within which it is positioned, while the more distal restrictor 652 is used to create a flow restriction within vessel 656. The combination of these two flow restrictors means that a vacuum or negative pressure can be applied to the proximal end of guide catheter 655 and transmitted to the distal end of Rx catheter 650 in such a way that any blood aspirated into the mouth of Rx catheter 650 is not supplied from the body of blood proximal to seal 652 in vessel 656.

This system enables a physician to use a standard guide or sheath to rapidly create an access path to the region of the target occlusion, and then use the Rx catheter 650 to quickly access and aspirate the target clot from the vessel. This system provides a major advantage in the speed and ease with which a physician will be able to access and retrieve the clot. The provision of the distal vessel seal 652 on the Rx catheter rather than on the guide or sheath means that this seal can be placed more distally in the vasculature, past the petris portion of the carotid vasculature when used in the ICA for example, which means less likelihood of vessel collapse when a suction force is applied, and less likelihood of vessel spasm.

In a preferred embodiment the flow restrictors / seals are actuatable and are formed from compliant balloons, which are inflated via a hollow shaft 657 by means of a syringe or inflator 653 applied to handle 654 of the Rx catheter 650. In other embodiments the proximal flow restrictor may be passive (i.e. it cannot be selectively activated or inactivated) as shown in several other designs in this disclosure. In yet other embodiments the distal seal may be actuated by means of an actuating member rather than an inflation lumen.

Most of the Rx (rapid exchange) catheters disclosed herein share some common features and geometry. Taking catheter 500 of Fig. 60 as an example: They have a distal generally tubular portion 502 comprising an inner lumen which starts with an opening or entry/exit port 517 and ends in a distal tip or mouth 503 into which clot is received. They have a proximal elongate shaft 501 which is connected at its distal end to the entry/exit port 517 and at its proximal end in some embodiments to a handle 513. The preferred geometry of these catheters depends on the target clot location. For clots located in the anterior or posterior cerebral anatomy the distal tubular portion 502 is preferably greater than 10cm (so that it can extend from within the distal end of a guide/sheath which may be located in an internal carotid artery or a vertebral artery, right up to the proximal face of a target clot), and less than 40cm so that the minimum possible length of tubular portion 502 is located within the lumen of the guide/sheath, thus maximising the internal volume of the combined guide/Rx catheter system for optimum aspiration efficacy).

The optimal internal and external diameters of the Rx catheter depends very much on the site of the target clot and the size of the guide catheter or sheath through which the catheter is to be advanced. In the case of retrieval of occlusive clots from cerebral vessels the likely vessel diameters range from approximately 1.5mm up to 6mm, with 3mm being a very typical diameter. Guide catheters / sheaths used in these scenarios have typically an internal diameter of between 0.060" and 0.095", so that a suitable system might consist of a guide catheter with an internal diameter of 0.078" and an Rx clot retrieval catheter whose distal tubular section has an outside diameter of 0.070" and an inside diameter of 0.062". Such a system provides a very significant benefit in terms of flow resistance over an equivalently sized conventional combination of a guide and intermediate/aspiration (not rapid exchange) catheter. In particular the effective proximal lumen of the system of this invention is that of the guide catheter (0.078"), while the effective proximal lumen of the conventional system would be that of the intermediate/aspiration catheter (0.062"). This results in a significantly lower flow restriction in the Rx system of the invention, which means that for a given vacuum / suction force applied to the proximal end of the system, a much greater flow will be created through the system of this invention. While a conventional (not rapid exchange) intermediate/aspiration catheter may be stepped in diameter to maximise its proximal internal diameter, this proximal internal diameter must always be significantly smaller than the guide/sheath in which it is positioned. This is not the case in the system of this invention.

Yet another embodiment of this invention is shown in Figures 64a-d, which depict a distal end configuration which could be employed with any of the clot retrieval catheters previously shown. The catheter distal end 700 has an integrated control member 701, which forms a loop 704 at the tip where it is connected to tip members 703 so that it acts like a draw string when pulled. The tip may comprise relatively stiff members 703 interspersed with relatively compliant members 702, so that the tip has both axial stiffness (to permit effective operation of the drawstring mechanism) and radial compliance (to allow expansion and contraction of the tip). Therefore when actuated by pulling as shown in Fig. 64b, the control member causes the tip of the catheter to reduce in diameter. This can improve the ability of the catheter to track through tortuousity and across obstacles such as the origin of the ophthalmic artery.

Similarly when the control member is pushed forward it can cause or allow the catheter tip to expand forming a funnel shape as shown in Fig. 64c. This can improve the ability of the catheter to aspirate clots and also act as a flow restrictor in the vessel. In use the control member may be pulled back during insertion of the catheter to improve accessibility. It can then be forwarded to increase the diameter of the tip and aspirate the occlusion.

If the occlusion or blood clot can only be partially aspirated, then the tip diameter can be reduced again by pulling the control member, causing the clot to be trapped as shown in Fig. 64d, reducing the risk of the clot travelling to a new territory during retraction of the catheter and improving dislodgement.

The flaps 703 of the catheter tip are not rigidly connected to the integrated control member 701 but form a loop which can slide over the control member. The control member distal end 706 may also be fixed to the inner surface of the catheter.

Referring to Fig. 65 there is illustrated an aspiration catheter 801 according to this invention in use in a thrombectomy procedure. The catheter 801 is similar to catheter 101 of Figs 10 and 11 and provides a proximal seal 802 against a guide catheter inner lumen 803 so that aspiration applied by syringe 811 (or a pump or by other means) through guide catheter 808 (via a rotating haemostasis valve (RHV) 814) can be transferred through to the distal end 812 of the aspiration catheter. Thrombectomy device 800 is shown deployed within clot 810, having been delivered through microcatheter 809 by means of proximal shaft 807. The method of use of the system illustrated is very similar to that described in Figs l la-d, except that in this embodiment the proximal end 815 of the microcatheter 809 and proximal end 806 of Rx aspiration catheter 801 are positioned within separate branches of a rotating hemostasis valve (RHV) 813. This configuration provides significant ease of use advantages over the configuration described in Fig. 11. In particular the RHV 813 can be more easily sealed around the proximal shaft 806 of the aspiration catheter to prevent any air ingress (or fluid leakage) during aspiration. In addition the user has better control over the aspiration catheter 801, microcatheter 809 and thrombectomy device 800 relative to the guide catheter 808, and can use RHVs 813 and 814 to lock and hold the aspiration catheter or microcatheter independently of each other.

One embodiment of the method of use of such a system could consist of the following steps: Accessing an arterial blood vessel of a patient using conventional means such as an introducer and guide catheter 808 and/or sheath, advancing Rx aspiration catheter 801 through a first branch of RHV 813 attached to proximal end of guide catheter 808, advancing a microcatheter 809 through a second branch of RHV 813 and through the aspiration catheter 801 and guide catheter 808 up to and across a target occlusive clot 810 with or without the aid of a guidewire, removing the guidewire (if used) and advancing a mechanical thrombectomy device 800 such as a stent- retriever through the microcatheter 809 to the target clot 810, retracting the microcatheter 809 at least a few cm to deploy a mechanical thrombectomy device 800 within the clot 810, advancing the aspiration catheter 801 up to a position just proximal of the clot 810 (or within the clot, or considerably proximal of the clot if vessel disease or tortuosity makes access difficult), optionally creating flow arrest by inflating the balloon of the guide catheter 808 (if used, or by other means), aspirating through the aspiration catheter 801 using a syringe 811 or pump connected to the guide catheter 808 while withdrawing the mechanical thrombectomy device 800 towards and into the distal mouth 812 of the aspiration catheter 801, withdrawing the clot 810, mechanical thrombectomy device 800 and microcatheter 809 through the aspiration catheter 801 and guide catheter 808 and out of the patient while continuing to aspirate.

A possible variant of the final step of the above method could involve removing the aspiration catheter along with the clot 810, mechanical thrombectomy device 800 and microcatheter 809. This variant is useful if a large and/or firm clot is encountered which the physician cannot (or does not wish to) fully withdraw into the mouth of the aspiration catheter. In such a situation the RHV 813 must be removed once the exit port 805 of the aspiration catheter 801 reaches the RHV 813.

Another method of use of such an Rx aspiration catheter system is to retrieve clot using aspiration without the use of a thrombectomy device. The rapid exchange shaft of this invention provides great advantages in terms of speed, deliverability, ease of use and aspiration lumen. A microcatheter or other similar catheter and guidewire nay be used to provide support to assist in tracking the aspiration catheter to the target site in a similar manner to that illustrated in either Fig. 65 or Figs l la-d.

Figs. 66a-66e illustrate an intermediate or aspiration catheter with an expansile tip that can be delivered in a constricted form. The side and end view of this device showing the tip in the collapsed configuration are shown in Figs. 66a and b. The tip material 901 can be folded inside the lumen to facilitate expansion. The expanded tip configuration of the device is shown in Figs. 66c and 66d. This increased tip diameter facilitates the aspiration and removal of large clot volumes by increasing the area of the catheter tip that applies aspiration to the clot. Fig 66e illustrates the construction / support frame of the device, which can be cut from a metal or polymer tube and covered with a thin polymer sleeve 909 (as shown in Fig. 66b) containing highly elastic properties. This construction can give good pushability and high compressive resistance. The cut pattern can contain axial connections 908 and ring members 906, which will provide a large level of axial support, lateral flexibility and hoop strength to withstand aspiration. The tip of the device can contain a section 907 proximal of the highly flexible area 905 that can expand to except clot. This potential to increase body diameter facilitates the retrieval of large volume clots in a 'snake belly effect' while the construction of the catheter provides good column stiffness to avoid axial collapse and still maintain good flexibility. In one embodiment frame 904 of the expansile tip can be gold or platinum coated to improve radiopacity and allow the user to visually confirm expansion of the tip. A highly flexible area 905 is located proximal of the expansile tip to allow the tip to optimally align with the clot face. In one embodiment this device can have an outer sleeve 909 with a high elastic strain limit and a low modulus to permit its expansion by a low radial force. A preferred membrane is a polyurethane membrane, which might be extruded or blow moulded or ideally dip coated directly onto the frame. The membrane may be coated internally and externally with a low friction coating such as a hydrophobic silicone or a hydrophilic material. In one embodiment the membrane is a hydrophilic material itself, comprising a hydrogel with sufficient thickness and modulus to retain its structure under the force of aspiration. Other suitable materials for this cover include PTFE, ETFE and PFA. In one embodiment the sleeve 909 can be inserted through the inner lumen of the support structure, wrapped around the distal tip and drawn back over the exterior of the catheter to create a one piece internal and external sleeve covering. This would have many benefits within manufacturing stages and also benefit device durability as there would be no material joints at the distal tip to delaminate, it could also provide an atraumatic tip profile.

Figs. 67a-67c illustrate a rapid exchange clot retrieval catheter 953 with an internal self- expanding feature to help expand the distal tip for improved aspiration and also provide strong clot grip. The device consists of a self-expanding element 950 connected proximally to a control wire 956 which is located inside the catheter Rx shaft 955. The catheter tip 952 is normally in the collapsed configuration as shown in Fig 67a when the internal self-expanding element 950 is in the proximal position shown. The distal end of the self-expanding assembly 950 is kept proximal of the tapered catheter tip 952 during device advancement in the vasculature until the catheter 953 is at the target location adjacent to the clot 951. Once the catheter 953 is in position the element 950 is advanced distally into the expansile tip 952 via the control wire 956. This action expands the catheter tip 952 to create a large open mouth receptacle that is advantageous to clot 951 aspiration due to the increased contact area of the tip.

Once clot 951 has been drawn into the expanded catheter tip 952 with aspiration, the element 950 is pulled proximally using the control wire 956. In doing so the clot 951 is gripped further by the feature 952 and pulled proximally into the catheter 953. The self-expanding element 950 can be constructed from a super elastic material such as Nitinol and can be constructed from Nitinol wires or from an expanded laser cut tube. In this configuration the internal self-expanding element 950 does not protrude past the distal tip of the catheter 953 at any point in the procedure.

Figs. 68a-68b illustrate a clot retrieval aspiration or intermediate catheter with mechanical and actuatable clot gripping features.

Fig. 68a illustrates a barbed tipped shaft 1001 attached to a proximal control shaft 1004, the device is delivered to the occlusion 1003 through the catheter 1000. Aspiration is applied to anchor/pull the clot 1003 into the catheter tip, once inside/anchored to the catheter tip a mechanical barbed device feature 1001 is advanced into the aspirated clot 1003 via the connected proximal control shaft 1004. Once mechanical grip is attained the clot 1003 is pulled further into the catheter 1000 or securely anchored within the catheter tip for retrieval with catheter. This device could be constructed so that the barbed device 1001 cannot protrude past the tip of the catheter and hence cannot contact the vessel wall. Fig. 68b illustrates an actuated pinch/gripper mechanism 1002 attached to a proximal control shaft 1004, the device is delivered to the occlusion 1003 through the aspiration catheter 1000. Aspiration is applied to anchor/pull the clot 1003 into the catheter tip and once partially inside/anchored to the catheter tip an actuatable pinch/gripper device 1002 is advanced to the aspirated clot 1003 and actuated by the user to grip/pinch the clot via the connected proximal control shaft 1004. Once mechanical grip is attained the clot 1003 is pulled further into the catheter 1000 or securely anchored within the catheter tip for retrieval with the catheter.

Figs. 69a-69c illustrate a rapid exchange catheter device 1050 and associated snare system integrated within. The snare consists of a distal loop 1054 located within the RX catheter 1055 tip and attached to actuator wires 1052. The distal loop 1054 is secured at two opposing points within the tip, on one side an internal feature 1056 that causes the snare to close down in diameter when pulled proximally and on the other side the snare loop is secured by a feature 1053 that holds the snare 1054 in position whilst the catheter 1055 is being pressed against the clot face. The feature 1053 allows the snare 1054 to break free once it is actuated using control wires 1052. The catheter 1050 shown is a rapid exchange (RX) catheter with an exit port 1058 that defines a transfer port for aspiration and provides a deliverability advantage of minimal frictional engagement with the guide catheter proximal of the exit port. The Rx aspiration catheter can be forwarded using the proximal hypotube 1059 to contact the clot face. Upon contact with the clot, aspiration can be applied and the clot 1060 or a portion of the clot is drawn inside the RX catheter tip through the snare 1054 as shown in Fig. 69c. The snare is then actuated via the control wire 1052 that is housed within the catheter control hypotube 1059. Once adequate resistance or lock up is felt the RX catheter 1050 and integrated snare device 1054 can be extracted with the clot 1060 securely held as shown in Fig. 69d. In another embodiment the integrated snare 1054 can be removed from the RX catheter 1055 by simply retracting the snare device proximally using the control wires 1052 housed with the RX catheter hypotube 1059. This would allow the RX catheter 1055 to be used to deliver a microcatheter and/or stentriever device to a distal location.

Figs.70a-70b illustrate an actuated RX expansile tip catheter device that can be actuated to act as an expansile clot receptor during aspiration coupled with an integrated snare device. The expansile tip/integrated snare is actuated via a slider mechanism 1106 housed within a proximal control handle 1105. The catheter tip consists of two materials, a support material 1104 to give lateral strength, resist compression and sustain integrity during aspiration coupled with an expansile material 1100 to facilitate expansion whilst maintaining a closed wall structure at the tip that is capable of maintaining aspiration. The snare wire 1102 is integrated into a circumferential lumen 1101 within the expansile catheter tip where it is free to slide within the lumen 1101 when actuated via slider mechanism 1106. The wire 1102 is fixed to the end points 1103 of the circumferential lumen 1101 within the catheter tip. The circumferential lumen 1101 located within the catheter tip provides an added grip feature for clot. The actuator wire 1108 runs distally from the control handle assembly 1105 to the catheter tip via a separate lumen 1109 integrated within the main RX lumen 1110, this allows the main lumen 1110 to be used to deliver further catheters or thrombectomy devices to the occlusion site.

The expansile tip can be closed down to a taper using the control handle assembly 1105, this greatly improves catheter deliverability in tortuous anatomy along with lessening any traumatic effects on the vessel. Once in position at the clot face the catheter tip can be actuated to expand using the slider 1106 on the control handle assembly 1105. Aspiration can be applied to draw clot within the expanded catheter tip, and any clot that is too large to aspirate can be secured within the catheter tip by closing the tip down via the control handle assembly 1105 and extracting the RX Catheter system and clot together.

Figs. 71a-71b illustrate an expansile tip intermediate or aspiration catheter with inner grip features located on the internal surface of the catheter tip. In one embodiment the internal grip features 1154 can be uni-directional features located upon the inner surface of the aspiration catheter 1151 that allow a low friction, low opposition entry of clot 1157 within the expansile catheter tip 1150 under aspiration. These uni-directional grip features 1154 serve to embed deeper, grip further and retain the clot when force is applied to them in an opposing direction during retrieval of catheter 1151. The expansile tip 1150 allows for accommodation of a larger clot volume during aspiration.

In one embodiment an atraumatic tip 1159 mounted on a control wire 1155 can be placed in position within the grip featuresl l54 of the catheter tip 1151. This tip 1159 consists of an inner lumen 1152 with a tapered atraumatic nose 1153. This tip 1159 is positioned within the distal tip of the catheter 1151 during advancement. It gives an atraumatic nose 1153 to the catheter 1151 which serves to aid catheter delivery and lessen vessel trauma. The tip 1159 also provides an atraumatic inner lumen 1152 in which further devices can be delivered without any interaction with the inner grip features 1154 located within the catheter tip 1150. Once any secondary devices have been delivered through the device 1159 to the occlusion site, the tip 1159 can be withdrawn proximally using the control wire 1155, this will serve to expose the uni-directional grip features 1154 within the catheter tip for use during clot 1157 retrieval. Figs. 72a-72b illustrate a multi-point aspiration catheter device 1210 in which sections of material constrained at one end are fixed into the catheter wall and act as a hinged tab. Fig. 72a illustrates a hinged tab 1200 in the closed position, which remains closed under aspiration until the catheter tip 1206 becomes occluded with clot 1205. Fig. 72b illustrates that when aspiration is applied through the lumen of the catheter 1201 via either a vacuum pump or syringe the catheter tip can become occluded with clot 1205. At this point the tab 1200 will bend at the hinge point 1204, thus opening up the aspiration lumen within the catheter 1201 to continue aspiration of emboli 1202. If the aspiration level drops below the specified level needed to bend the tab 1200 at the hinge point 1204 it will simply close and all aspiration will once again be directed to the catheter tip until it becomes occluded again with clot 1205, at which stage the tab 1200 will open once again. The tab 1200 material can be specified such that the vacuum level within the catheter lumen can be balanced at a pre-determined range. The tab 1200 can be formed from a variety of flexible materials with different properties such that they will bend at varying levels of aspirational force or alternatively they can be cut directly from the catheter material. Multiple tabs may be positioned at varying points around the catheter circumference and along the length to facilitate alternate aspiration points.

In another embodiment of the invention shown in Figs. 73a and 73b, the clot engagement feature 1252 is an integral part of the intermediate catheter construction 1255. The intermediate catheter 1255 can be introduced into the vasculature and forwarded to a position proximal of the clot. The microcatheter 1251 can then be forwarded through the intermediate catheter 1255 as per standard interventional techniques and a stentriever device 1250 deployed at the target location within the clot (not shown). The clot engagement feature 1252 can be forwarded by advancing the push- wire 1256 until the engagement feature 1252 contacts the clot. This is facilitated by the handle construction 1265 attached to the proximal end of the catheter 1255. A slider button 1258 on the handle 1265 may be connected to the push-wire 1256 to enable the clot engagement feature to be advanced. Aspiration can be applied to the vessel via the catheter 1255 and the luer connection on the handle 1259. A seal may be maintained on the proximal end of the microcatheter 1262 during aspiration by the haemostasis valve 1261. The clot engager 1252, microcatheter 1251 and stentriever 1250 can then be held in a static position and the intermediate catheter 1255 advanced to cause the clot engagement feature 1252 to collapse down over the clot further enhancing grip on the clot, and partially resheathing the stentriever device 1250. This is facilitated by the slider button 1260 which is connected to catheter 1255 in the handle 1265. The handle and slider buttons make it easier for the user to control the advancement and retraction of the devices used in the procedure. The catheter 1255, stentriever 1250, microcatheter 1251 and clot can be removed from the vasculature as a single unit through the guide catheter or introducer sheath.

This device configuration may also be used without an additional stentriever and microcatheter. In this scenario, the clot engagement feature 1251 is forwarded into the proximal face of the clot. Aspiration is applied through the catheter and then the catheter 1255 is forwarded to cause the clot engagement feature 1251 to wrap down over the clot, gripping the clot securely. The clot engagement feature 1255 may be fully retracted into the catheter using the slider button 1258 to fully retrieve the clot, before the device is retracted. Alternatively, the clot engager 1255 and the clot may be held static and the catheter 1255 advanced over the clot engager 1255 and clot.

Figs. 74a and 74b illustrate the distal tip 1305 of an intermediate or aspiration catheter that has an inner sleeve 1300 and an outer sleeve 1301. The sleeves are connected at the distal end by a flexible polymer sleeve 1302. The flexible sleeve 1302 is shown in its initial position in Fig. 74a. The catheter is advanced in the vasculature until the distal end of the catheter contacts the clot 1304. Aspiration is applied to the catheter to pull the clot 1304 into the catheter and remove it from the vasculature. If the clot is not fully removed the outer sleeve of the catheter 1301 may be advanced relative to the inner sleeve 1300 so that the flexible sleeve 1302 rolls over the clot providing enhanced grip and encapsulating the clot. The catheter and clot may then be removed as a single unit.

Alternatively the inner sleeve 1300 may be retracted proximally relative to the outer sleeve 1301 to help pull the clot 1304 into the catheter 1305 under aspiration. This may facilitate clot removal through the aspirate, or provide enhanced grip so that the catheter and clot may be removed as a single unit. The length of the flexible sleeve may vary from 2mm to 30 mm but in the preferred embodiment varies from 5 to 15 mm. The sleeve may be formed from a flexible polymer such as polyurethane or may be constructed from a wire or polymer fibre braid. Nitinol wire braid is particularly suited to this construction due to its Superelastic and shape memory properties. Figs. 75a to 75d show a method of use to remove a clot 1351 from the vasculature 1355. Fig. 75a shows a microcatheter 1352 advanced across the clot 1351 using standard neuro-interventional techniques. The stentriever device 1350 is partially deployed to allow the fragment protection feature to expand and protect the distal vasculature from any emboli that may be released from the clot. The catheter 1354 is introduced into the vasculature and forwarded until the distal tip 1356 is in contact with the proximal face of the clot. Aspiration is applied through the catheter during advancement or when in contact with the clot to attempt to retrieve the clot fully. The catheter tip 1356 is shown in these images in a skive configuration but it may be any configuration described elsewhere in this patent.

If the clot 1351 has a large volume or has a high fibrin content, it might not be fully aspirated but may be partially aspirated in the catheter 1354 as shown in Fig.75b. The microcatheter 1352 can then be retracted to deploy the remainder of the stentriever device 1350. The deployment of the device 1350 pins the partially retrieved clot 1353 against the inner surface of the catheter 1354 providing enhanced grip to the clot. The stentriever device 1350 may be further retrieved to pull the clot 1351 further into the catheter as shown in Fig. 75d. In this manner the clot 1351 may be fully retracted into the catheter 1354 and be removed or the clot 1351, catheter 1354 and stentriever device 1350 may be removed from the vasculature as a single unit. Figs. 76a and 76b show a partial cut-away view of a catheter tip construction 1410 suitable for use with a 'rapid exchange' (Rx) intermediate or aspiration catheter 1403. The Rx intermediate catheter is described elsewhere in this patent. This tip construction 1410 can be integrated into any access catheter such as a balloon guide catheter or introducer sheath 1402. The catheter tip 1410 is constructed so that it forms a seal 1400 between the sheath 1402 and the intermediate catheter 1403. Therefore when aspiration is applied to the proximal end of the sheath 1402 as per standard technique using a syringe or pump, this aspiration low pressure and flow rate is transmitted to the tip 1409 of the Rx intermediate catheter 1403 via the Rx port 1408 of the catheter. The seal 1400 between the sheath and the Rx intermediate catheter prevents blood flow into the tip of the sheath 1401; ensuring maximum aspiration effectiveness is transmitted to the tip of the Rx intermediate catheter 1409. The tip of the catheter 1401 may have a flared shape as shown to facilitate the retrieval of clot 1411 that may be exposed at the end of the Rx intermediate catheter 1409. Fig. 76b shows an alternative embodiment of this invention where the catheter tip 1404 also forms a seal with the outer surface of the Rx intermediate catheter 1405 to ensure the maximum flow rate and pressure drop are transmitted through the Rx port 1408 of the Rx intermediate catheter 1405 during aspiration. Catheter tip 1404 may be constructed from an elastic polymer material such as polyurethane and has a necked down profile in its relaxed configuration. When the intermediate catheter 1405 is forwarded through the tip 1404, it stretches to accommodate the intermediate catheter and forms a seal. The inner surface of the tip 1404 can be lined with a low friction material such as HDPE or PTFE or may have a hydrophilic or low friction coating applied to minimise resistance to advancing the intermediate catheter 1405. This tip configuration 1404 may also act as an atraumatic tip for the introducer sheath 1402 during insertion and may improve trackability over a 0.035" guidewire as the reduced tip diameter acts as a lead-in to the catheter.

Fig. 77 illustrates another configuration of an intermediate catheter 1450 where the tip 1451 is self-expandable so that when it is advanced distal to the guide catheter or sheath 1454, it can expand to a diameter greater than the inner diameter of the access catheter 1454. The expanded diameter of tip 1451 can vary from lx to 3x the inner diameter of the guide catheter or sheath 1454 and in the preferred embodiment can range from lx to 2x. The construction of this tip is described elsewhere in this patent. Proximal to the expanded tip 1451 is the catheter segment 1452 which has a reduced diameter compared to the body section of the catheter 1453. The reduced diameter section 1452 provides enhanced flexibility and trackability of the catheter allowing it to navigate through tortuous anatomy and reach the target location of the clot in the vasculature. The reduced diameter section can vary in length from 20mm to 200mm and in the preferred embodiment is approximately 100 mm long. The diameter of this section can vary from 30% to 80% of the body section 1453 diameter and in the preferred embodiment is approximately 50% to 60% of the body section diameter.

Figs. 78a and 78b show another configuration of the invention and illustrate the distal section 1500 of a catheter. The tip of the catheter is configured so that there is a neck down region 1501 just proximal of the distal tip 1502. In this configuration the distal tip 1502 is the same diameter as the body section 1503. The neck down region 1501 provides a flare angle (a) to the distal tip 1502. This flare angle facilitates improved aspiration of clots as it improves the approach angle of the catheter to the clot as it is advanced in the vasculature. This is particularly relevant in bends and tortuous anatomy as shown in Fig.78b. In this figure the catheter 1503 is advanced through the vessel 1505 until it is in contact with the clot 1506. The flare angle of tip 1502 ensures good contact with the clot 1506 and the necked down portion 1501 improves the flexibility of the tip and allows the tip 1502 to flex and align with the vessel facilitating improved aspiration of the clot.

It will be apparent from the foregoing description that while particular embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, various modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, while the embodiments described herein refer to particular features, the invention includes embodiments having different combinations of features. The invention also includes embodiments that do not include all of the specific features described.

The invention is not limited to the embodiments hereinbefore described which may be varied in construction and detail.