Cardiovascular diseases (CVD)

Diseases of the heart and circulatory system (cardiovascular diseases or CVD) are the main causes of death in Europe: accounting for over 4 million deaths each year. Nearly half (47%) of all deaths are from CVD[1]. The CVD burden in Europe is exacerbated by its rapidly ageing population. With ageing, the prevalence of many cardiovascular diseases increases exponentially, especially Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), Valvular Heart Disease (VHD), Atrial Fibrillation (AF), heart failure and hypertension. The resulting economic as well as human costs for Europe are tremendous. Overall CVD is estimated to cost the EU economy almost 196 billion € a year.

Medical technology advancement

In the last half century, medical technology has led to a significant improvement in both clinical diagnosis and management of CVD. This, together with a change in the lifestyle of European citizens, has resulted in a consistent decrease in death rates from CVD over the past two decades in most of the European countries. The advancement of techniques for minimally invasive management of CVD has contributed vitally to improving the prognosis of these patients and this is clearly reflected in their incorporation into the clinical guidelines.

The ENIAC JU project INCITE (Intelligent Catheters in Advanced Systems for Interventions) aims to develop intelligent catheter technologies and systems that will accelerate the paradigm shift from costly, burdensome surgical treatments to cost-effective and patient-friendly minimally invasive interventions (Figure 1). It will also enable the creation of new advanced treatments for currently complex surgical procedures. This will allow for more individuals to be treated thereby contributing further to the trend of decreasing death rates and improvement in quality of life.


The INCITE project will investigate, build and preclinically test demonstrator catheter and minimal invasive surgery (MIS) systems based on intrinsically compact and advanced technologies. This will not only allow new functionality but the combination of functionalities. Most importantly, an intelligent catheter platform will allow these functions to be integrated into small devices that can address a wide range of complex interventions in a cost effective and industrially feasible manner while simultaneously improving the therapeutic outcome for the patient. One key platform technology that will advance catheter and MIS robotic systems significantly beyond state-of-the-art is based on integrated circuits, silicon processing and microstructure and nanoscale modification of sensor surfaces based on silicon technology (Figure 2). With microelectronics technology, it will be possible to construct many of the key components in the system, including sensors, ultrasonic imagers, electronics and interconnects. Using this technology, the components can be extremely miniaturized, multiplex-capable, and have natural integration interfaces to each other. New miniaturizable steering mechanisms, employing electrically controlled actuators based on smart materials, will also be developed. This will be a substantial advancement from the current state of the art which is wholly mechanical.



The three key objectives of the INCITE project are summarized below:

Objective 1:  Develop innovative new compact imaging, sensing and steering technologies for advanced cardio/vascular catheter applications, and sensing functions for surgery robotic applications. 
Objective 2: Realize technologies for micro-interconnects and low-wire/cable count communication that enable advanced imaging, sensing and steering.
Objective 3: Fabricate catheter(s) demonstrating advanced functionality for specific clinical use case(s).

INCITE brings together top, experienced semiconductor device, materials and packaging specialists, market leading catheter manufacturers and medical device companies and world-class medical institutions to address the burden of cardiovascular disease in Europe. It will allow Europe to take the lead in the design and manufacture of a new class of catheter systems with unprecedented advanced functionality. This will permit the first steps towards market leadership within Europe and eventually worldwide in the large and rapidly growing market of minimally invasive interventions.


[1] Nichols M, et al. (2012). European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2012. European Heart Network, Brussels, European Society of Cardiology, Sophia Antipolis.

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