The Origins

Updated on May 15, 2017

The Precursors to Andreas Grüntzig

1.1 - Werner Forssmann: The first human catheterization

P2. Werner Forssmann (1904-79)

The first vessel catheterization was performed in 1929 by Werner Forssmann (1904-79), a German physician who lived in Eberswalde, near Berlin, Germany. This story was told in his book Experiments on myself. Memoirs of a surgeon, published in 1962.11. Forssmann W. Selbstversuch. Erinnerungen eines Chirurgien. Verlag Dr. Köster, Berlin. 1972. Link It is an extraordinary story. Werner Forssmann wanted to find an access route for injecting life-saving drugs that was less dangerous than intracardiac puncture. He knew the works of Jean-Baptiste Auguste Chauveau and Etienne Jules Marey who had performed the first catheterizations on horses. This process was harmless for animals, but was presumed dangerous for humans. In any case, Werner Forssmann was convinced that it would be perfectly safe and, therefore, ignoring the ban by the chief of his service, he secretly decided to try his first experimentation.

After cadaver experiments allowed him to see that it would be possible to advance a catheter through a vessel to reach the heart, he performed this first catheterization on himself, using a urethral catheter inserted by an incision into his antecubital...

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