Andreas Grüntzig and the Birth of Balloon Dilatation

Updated on May 15, 2017

P13. First success with the double-lumen balloon catheter: Michaela Grüntzig, Walter Schlumpf, Maria Schlumpf, Andreas Grüntzig –Zurich 1975. (Courtesy Maria Schlumpf)

The double-lumen balloon catheter was now sufficiently improved to be used in coronary arteries. From 1974 to mid-1976, balloon catheters were hand-modeled by Andreas Grüntzig and Walter Schlumpf for Andreas’s personal use and that of specific German (namely Eberhard Zeitler) or American colleagues. Initially Andreas Grüntzig tested these balloon catheters in the smallest peripheral arteries in order to verify that their downsizing would allow them to be used one day in coronary arteries.

Researching and finding industrial companies who were capable of making Andreas Grüntzig’s balloon catheters was extremely challenging and none of the German companies that were contacted expressed interest in this project. In 1976, contact had also been made with the Cook Company, but without success due to manufacturing difficulties. Ultimately, the Swiss company of Hugo Schneider (which employed Helmuth Schmid, and who would later be fired for doing freelance work with Andreas Grüntzig) agreed to manufacture Andreas Grüntzig’s balloon catheters starting in the second half of 1976. The company changed its name to Schneider Medintag in 1977 and the balloon catheter, patented under the name...

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