In 1956, Dr. Werner Forssman was awarded The Nobel Prize
August 7, 2003 3:44 PM   Subscribe

Human cardiac catheterization was introduced by Werner Forssman in 1929. Ignoring his department chief, and tying his assistant to an operating table to prevent her interference, he placed a ureteral catheter into a vein in his arm, advanced it to the right atrium [of his heart], and walked upstairs to the x-ray department where he took the confirmatory x-ray film. In 1956, Dr. Forssman was awarded The Nobel Prize. [via the "fortune" command]
posted by hob (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posthumously, right?
posted by scarabic at 4:41 PM on August 7, 2003

gross gross gross gross gross
posted by evening at 4:55 PM on August 7, 2003

Gross indeed, but it was one of the things that allowed my father to live about 20 years longer than he otherwise probably would have. So I am grateful.
posted by JanetLand at 4:57 PM on August 7, 2003

O.K., but did he stick the Nobel prize in his atria as well?

plus, I thought that he had tied the assistant up to experiment with _her_ veins, not his
posted by matteo at 5:14 PM on August 7, 2003

gross gross gross gross gross

*shakes head in wonderment*

they fixed my heart through a tube, and all i got was this big purple bruise on my leg.
posted by quonsar at 5:36 PM on August 7, 2003

Now _that's_ gross.
posted by slipperywhenwet at 5:58 PM on August 7, 2003

Ewww, medicine is all ICKY an' stuff! Nasty anatomy!

I've also had a cardiac cath test. It's an amazing--and highly useful--procedure. And much less "gross" than blowing your nose.
posted by rushmc at 6:26 PM on August 7, 2003

I'm adding quonsar to my list of people who've put way too much of themselves on the web...

I experienced my first (so far) angiogram six months ago. The cardiologist was ready to swap tools and fast-forward into an angioplasty until I shocked and annoyed him with how little my arteries were blocked. He's been constantly telling me I'm a lot healthier than I feel ever since. Great tools are great tools, but a doctor who's really looking after you is a lot harder to find (at least for me).

BTW, I've also been suspicious of the docs' decision to prevent post-procedure blood seepage at the point of entry by putting a ten-pound weight on my groin...
posted by wendell at 7:12 PM on August 7, 2003

BTW, I've also been suspicious of the docs' decision to prevent post-procedure blood seepage at the point of entry by putting a ten-pound weight on my groin...

Don't be. As a "Veteran" of 5 of these procedures, I can say that while every doctor/hospital has their own procedures, the weight on the groin is pretty much standard.

In olden days they put an extra wide bandage over the incision, then secured it by running tape from the center of your back, between the legs, across the wound, and then around the calf three or four times. The tape was so tight that it was impossible to straighten your leg!
posted by Wildcat3 at 7:54 PM on August 7, 2003

I first read that as hooking the urethra up to the heart. Bound to be problems involved. So quonsar really is that naked profile of a man sitting at his computer? The hematoma doesn't come through in the picture.
posted by Frank Grimes at 9:33 PM on August 7, 2003

Now that took some big brass balls. Kudos to Dr Forssman.
posted by sennoma at 8:14 AM on August 8, 2003

Sorry, Forssmann.
posted by sennoma at 8:20 AM on August 8, 2003

Interesting that you should post this today; I was just reading about Forssmann for a lecture I gave Monday. More info is here. From what I found, he did not actually tie his assistant down, but had her lie down thinking she would be the subject and then stood where she could not see him doing the procedure on himself. His second catheterization was on a young woman dying of sepsis, and then he performed 8 more on himself. His chairman, Prof. Richard Scheider, was much more understanding than the typical Herr Professor of the day and allowed Forssmann to continue his experiments with little interference, but he was looked upon as a bit of a lunatic by the medical community. WW II then interrupted his work and he did little experiemntation afterward.

Also interesting is the story of Dr. Mason Sones and the discovery of coronary angiography. Until 1958 cardiologists tried to avoid the coronary arteries with their catheters, assuming that the injection of x-ray contrast into the coronaries would cause the heart to stop. One can only immagine the horror in Sones's lab when they were trying to look at an aortic valve and the patient's coronary circulation instead lit up on the fluoro screen after an accidental misplacement of the catheter. To everyone's relief the patient did fine, and a new procedure was invented.
posted by TedW at 9:09 AM on August 8, 2003

Another interesting figure in the development of modern heart surgery was C. Walton Lillehei; There is a museum named after him that has a good website, and G. Wayne Miller wrote an good biography.
posted by TedW at 10:29 AM on August 8, 2003

Another one: cardiologist George Ralph Mines, who died in 1914, maybe from self-induced ventricular dysrhythmia. Gleick's Chaos cites it as definite, but the above Clinical Cardiology profile is more cautious.
posted by raygirvan at 2:14 PM on August 8, 2003

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