Today, no one could imagine that in the not too distant past the only function of a catheter was to visualize coronary arteries as required – when medical treatment failed – for coronary bypass surgery. However, this was the daily reality until 1977.
Charles Dotter’s “crazy” idea was to treat an artery with plumbers’ tools and without a scalpel in an attempt to decrease surgical mortality and morbidity. If it became a “reasonable” treatment, it was due to Andreas Grüntzig’s cautious pursuit, patience and perseverance into the unknown. His dream was to treat vascular disease percutaneously with a catheter in conscious and alert patients. The genius of Andreas Grüntzig allowed improvements to Charles Dotter’s tools in an effort to perform balloon dilatation of coronary arteries.
My purpose is to share this amazing story, one that challenged all of our convictions at the time –convictions which were based on our scientific knowledge of pathology. Herein we relive this story step by step, sharing the hopes, the disappointments and the strategies for developing interventional cardiology and enabling it to become the treatment of reference for coronary artery disease.
First, I would like to focus on the early pioneers in catheterization and coronary...