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Ann Thorac Surg. 2009 Jan;87(1):342-6. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2008.08.072.

Clarence Crafoord: a giant in cardiothoracic surgery, the first to repair aortic coarctation.

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Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Linköping University Hospital, Linköping, Sweden.


On October 19, 1944, Clarence Crafoord performed the first successful repair of aortic coarctation. The operation was done a year before Robert Gross did his first case (he is often claimed to have been the first). In fact, Gross had read Crafoord's report before he performed his own first operation. Crafoord's achievement was not an isolated event. In the late 1920s he had performed two successful pulmonary embolectomies, in the 1930s he introduced heparin as thrombosis prophylaxis, and in the 1940s he pioneered mechanical positive-pressure ventilation during thoracic operations and worked out a safe and precise technique for pneumonectomy. During the 1950s a string of innovative surgical procedures were done at his unit in Stockholm. These included the second successful case of cardiopulmonary bypass in the world, the first case of atrial repair of transposition of the great arteries, endarterectomy of the left coronary artery, and the first implantation of a pacemaker into a human. In this article we will pay tribute to Clarence Crafoord and describe some of the contributions that he and his collaborators made to the field of cardiothoracic surgery.

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