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Tex Heart Inst J. 2011;38(5):486-90.

Cardiac surgery: a century of progress.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey 07103, USA.


Well into the first decades of the 20th century, medical opinion held that any surgical attempts to treat heart disease were not only misguided, but unethical. Despite such reservations, innovative surgeons showed that heart wounds could be successfully repaired. Then, extracardiac procedures were performed to correct patent ductus arteriosus, coarctation of the aorta, and tetralogy of Fallot. Direct surgery on the heart was accomplished with closed commissurotomy for mitral stenosis. The introduction of the heart-lung machine and cardiopulmonary bypass enabled the surgical treatment of other congenital and acquired heart diseases. Advances in aortic surgery paralleled these successes. The development of coronary artery bypass grafting greatly aided the treatment of coronary heart disease. Cardiac transplantation, attempts to use the total artificial heart, and the application of ventricular assist devices have brought us to the present day.Although progress in the field of cardiovascular surgery appears to have slowed when compared with the halcyon times of the past, substantial challenges still face cardiac surgeons. It can only be hoped that sufficient resources and incentive can carry the triumphs of the 20th century into the 21st. This review covers past developments and future opportunities in cardiac surgery.


Cardiac surgical procedures/education/history/methods/trends; cardiovascular diseases/mortality/surgery; heart transplantation/history/trends; heart valve prosthesis implantation/history/instrumentation/methods; heart, artificial; history, 20th century; internship and residency/trends; treatment outcome

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