Forsmann, Werner Theodor Otto

Forsmann, Werner Theodor Otto
SUBJECT AREA: Medical technology
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b. 29 August 1904 Berlin, Germany
d. 1 June 1979 Schofheim, Germany
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German cardiologist and surgeon, pioneer of cardiac catheterization in humans.
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Forsmann studied medicine at the University of Berlin, graduating in 1929. He later became chief of the surgical clinic in Dresden-Friedrichstadt, and in 1958 he became head of the surgical division of the Evangelical Hospital in Düsseldorf.
Intravascular catheterization had been undertaken in research with animals by Marey in 1861, and had been used in 1912 by Unger et al. in the treatment of puerperal sepsis. In 1929 Forsmann inserted a catheter into his own cubital vein and up into the heart, monitoring its position with X-rays. Continuing experiments demonstrated that it was possible to undertake radiographic studies of the heart using contrast media. Despite the outstanding potential of the technique, its immediate adoption was held to present unacceptable dangers; it was not until developments in anaesthesia and antibiotics that the technique achieved its present position as a routine investigation permitting the widespread practice of angiocardiography. Deterred by criticism, Forsmann turned his energies to urology, gaining much distinction in this field.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology (jointly with A.F.Cournand and D.W.Richards) 1956.
Bibliography
1929, "Die Sonderung des rechten Herzens", Klin. Woch.
Further Reading
J.A.Meyer, 1990, "Werner Forsmann and the catheterisation of the heart", Ann. Thorac. Surg.
MG

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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