advertisement-vertical Download Proto magazine app
Social Icons

Highlights of Heart Repair

Self-cardiac catheterization, balloons, stents and more, through the decades.

By Cathryn Delude // Spring 2007
Daniel Hale Williams

Courtesy of the Provident Foundation


African-American surgeon Daniel Hale Williams sews up a tear in the pericardium of a man stabbed in a bar fight.

Werner Forssmann

Courtesy of


German surgical resident Werner Forssmann performs the first cardiac catheterization— on himself.

Robert Gross



At Children’s Hospital in Boston, Robert Gross corrects a congenital heart defect in a seven-year-old girl.

Charles Hufnagel

Reprinted from “The Mid-Century Revolution in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery: Part 4,” by A.P. Naef, Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, 2004; 3:213-221,  2004 European Association of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery


Charles Hufnagel of Georgetown University Medical Center implants the first prosthetic aortic valve.

Heart-lung machine, John Gibbon

© 1991 University of Pennsylvania Press


Heart-lung machine inventor John Gibbon performs the first successful open-heart surgery with the device.

Mason Sones Jr.

Courtesy of Cleveland Clinic Archives


At the Cleveland Clinic, Mason Sones Jr. conducts the first coronary angiogram; it becomes the gold standard in diagnosis.

Andreas Gruentzig, angioplasty

Courtesy of


Using a balloon catheter he made in his kitchen, Swiss cardiologist Andreas Gruentzig performs the first angioplasty.


Courtesy of Cordis


Stents, designed to hold arteries open longer, are introduced to angioplasty in France. They receive FDA approval in 1994.

James L. Cox

Courtesy of James L. Cox


James L. Cox of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis develops the Cox-Maze procedure for atrial fibrillation.

Ottavio Alfieri, Alfieri stitch

Courtesy of Ottavio Alfieri


Italian surgeon Ottavio Alfieri devises the Alfieri stitch, which connects a mitral valve’s flaps but still allows blood flow.

Atrial fibrillation

P. Marazzi/Photo Researchers, Inc.


French electro-physiologists discover that the major triggers of atrial fibrillation are in the pulmonary veins.


Courtesy of Evalve, Inc.


The MitraClip, the first percutaneous device for performing the Alfieri stitch, enters feasibility trials in the United States.


Is Heart Surgery History?

Tools for open heart surgery: armamentarium, skin knife, Weitlaner retractor, sternum saw, Finochietto retractor, sutures, pericardium, rake retractor, needle holder

Treating the heart today involves less cutting and more cutting-edge technology. But where does that leave cardiac surgeons?

Protomag on Facebook Protomag on Twitter