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The History of Heart Catheterization

We all know that discoveries can sometimes happen due to incidents. Some indeed happen because of a small hypothesis that turns out to be achievable. Yet, the process of discoveries will be filled with push backs from everyone who doesn't agree on what's going on. In fact, you might not even have the right tools and you just have to be creative.

Dr Werner Frossmann, a German doctor, hypothesized that a catheter could be inserted into the heart to either give medications, inject dyes or measure blood pressure. The problem was that physicians were afraid to do so as they thought that such action would be fatal. He continued to think about this theory and wanted to prove it to everyone, so he persuaded one of the nurses to help him with this discovery and agreed to let him do the procedure on her. She agreed to volunteer and took a promise from him that he will do it on her but not on himself. In 1929, Dr Frossmann restrained her on the operating table and pretended to locally anesthetizing her arm but then she discovered that he actually tricked her and he in fact anesthetized his arm!

Well, she couldn't do anything as she was restrained. He went ahead and used a "Foley" urine catheter and inserted it into his antecubital vein for a couple of centimeters. He then released her from restraints and told her to get the X-ray department ready. With the "Foley" catheter in his arm, Dr Frossmann and the nurse walked to the X-ray department and guided the "Foley" catheter towards his right ventricle under fluoroscopy guidance. He proved to every that he did not die.

Things didn't happen the way he expected as the department thought that his actions were radical and was fired from the hospital he worked at. He went to another hospital and performed heart catheterization on a patient where his supervisor told him "You certainly can't begin surgery in that manner". Dr Frossmann was devastated from what happened to him and decided to switch careers from cardiology into urology!

Couple of years later, other physicians read his paper and developed ways to apply his technique in managing heart diseases. He then was awarded the noble prize in Medicine with the other phsycians who used his technique for heart catheterization. It was already too later for him to continue his dream as he switched career to Urology and continued practicing it.

Nowadays, cardiac catheterization has saved millions of lives. Performing left heart catheterization enables physicians to explore the coronary circulations and perform procedures to open up clogged vessels. Right heart catheterization is a gold standard in diagnosing pulmonary hypertensi

on. Other procedures that stem from the cardiac catheterization include arrhythmia ablations, alcohol ablations, repairing ASD or VSDs and replacing valves without open heart surgery.

Remember that there is no idea as stupid, an idea is an idea. You would never know if it is right or wrong unless if you or someone else experiments it. To prove this point, remember that a "Foley" urine catheter was used to do the first heart catheterization!

Heart catheterization

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