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Ann Thorac Surg. 1990 Mar;49(3):497-9.

Werner Forssmann and catheterization of the heart, 1929.

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Department of Surgery, State University of New York Health Science Center, Syracuse.


Invasive study of cardiac anatomy and function traces its origin to the work of a 25-year-old surgical trainee in a provincial German town in the pre-Depression years of 1929 and 1930. Only 1 year out of medical school and undeterred by the medical profession's fear of tampering with the heart, Dr Werner Forssmann explored methods for a more direct access to the cardiac chambers, finding it necessary to make the observations on himself. Later he was able to show that the right-sided cardiac chambers could be visualized radiographically after injection of iodinated contrast materials through a catheter into the right atrium, and again he tried the method on himself.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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