Thin film nitinol has unique mechanical properties (e.g., superelasticity), excellent biocompatibility, and ultra-smooth surface, as well as shape memory behavior. All these features along with its low-profile physical dimension (i.e., a few micrometers thick) make this material an ideal candidate in developing low-profile medical devices (e.g., endovascular devices). Thin film nitinol-based devices can be collapsed and inserted in remarkably smaller diameter catheters for a wide range of catheter-based procedures; therefore, it can be easily delivered through highly tortuous or narrow vascular system. A high-quality thin film nitinol can be fabricated by vacuum sputter deposition technique. Micromachining techniques were used to create micro patterns on the thin film nitinol to provide fenestrations for nutrition and oxygen transport and to increase the device's flexibility for the devices used as thin film nitinol covered stent. In addition, a new surface treatment method has been developed for improving the hemocompatibility of thin film nitinol when it is used as a graft material in endovascular devices. Both in vitro and in vivo test data demonstrated a superior hemocompatibility of the thin film nitinol when compared with commercially available endovascular graft materials such as ePTFE or Dacron polyester. Promising features like these have motivated the development of thin film nitinol as a novel biomaterial for creating endovascular devices such as stent grafts, neurovascular flow diverters, and heart valves. This review focuses on thin film nitinol fabrication processes, mechanical and biological properties of the material, as well as current and potential thin film nitinol medical applications.
Keywords: Endovascular device; Hemocompatibility; Sputtering deposition; Stent graft; Thin film nitinol.
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