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Andreas Gruentzig

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Andreas Gruentzig
(1939 - October 27, 1985)
Born in Germany
Year of Discovery: 1976

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Developed Angioplasty - Starting With Homemade Materials at His Kitchen Table.

In the early 1970s, Andrea Gruentzig, a young German doctor, speculated that a balloon could transform the way doctors treat heart disease. Angioplasty is a procedure that is done to reduce or eliminate blockages in the arteries around the heart so that blood flow can be restored to blood-deprived heart tissue. Removing or reducing the blockage lessens chest pain and reduces the need for some medications for most patients. Gruentzig had learned a method of angioplasty years earlier in Nuremburg. This is a procedure in which a thin tube (catheter) is passed through the interior opening of the blood vessel (the lumen) to treat the unhealthy build up of plaque (atherosclerosis). When he began his practice in Zurich, he considered the advantage of adding an inflatable component to the catheter. Amazingly, he began developing trial versions of this balloon catheter in his own kitchen, searching for possible options for the material and design. By 1975 he had developed a double-lumen catheter (a single catheter tube with two separate channels) fitted with a polyvinylchloride balloon-it was this balloon, first developed at his kitchen table, that revolutionized cardiac treatment.

 

Before long, Gruentzig began animal studies with his prototype and presented his findings at the 1976 meeting of the American Heart Association. But, he was disappointed to be met with skepticism from many of his colleagues who did not share his enthusiasm for the new device. However, Dr. Richard Myler, did see the potential of the balloon catheter and invited Gruentzig to San Francisco. Together they performed the very first human coronary angioplasty on an anesthetized patient, during bypass surgery. In 1977, back in Zurich, Gruentzig performed the same surgery on a patient who was awake.
In 1977 Gruentzig traveled once again to the American Heart Association meeting, and presented the results of his first four angioplasty cases. This time his colleagues burst into applause, recognizing this breakthrough with a standing ovation. Following the meeting, Gruentzig was in high demand to share his expertise. He felt it was critical to teach this new technique to physicians himself, so he could make them aware of the associated risks and pitfalls. He was concerned that if the procedure was not carried out exactly as he had intended, it could become associated with poor outcomes, so he worked tirelessly to share his knowledge with the cardiac community.

Since the early 1980s, there have been small enhancements in the design and procedure of Gruentzig's angioplasty, but it has remained essentially the same. The balloon is often replaced by a stent in recent procedures. Within little more than a decade after its invention, angioplasty surpassed bypass surgery as the treatment of choice for coronary artery disease.

Sadly, Gruentzig and his wife died in an airplane crash in Georgia on October 27, 1985. He was just 46 years old. His impact on the field of medicine was tremendous, with his breakthrough technique providing surgeons a less invasive means than "open" surgeries to treat coronary artery disease. There are over 2 million angioplasties performed each year, making it one of the most common procedures performed in hospitals around the world.

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Introduction by April Ingram



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Table of Contents

Introduction
Links to More Information About the Scientist
Key Insight
Key Experiment or Research
Quotes by the Scientist
Quotes About the Scientist
Anecdotes
Fun Trivia About The Science
The Science Behind the Discovery
Personal Information
Key Contributing Scientists
Science Discovery Timeline
Recommended Books About the Science
Books by the Scientist
Books About the Scientist
Awards
Major Academic Papers
Curriculum Vitae
Links to Science and Related Information on the Subject
Sources

 








Links to More About the Scientist & the Science

Angioplasty.org biography:
http://www.ptca.org/archive/bios/gruentzig.html

Russian Society of Interventional Cardioangiologists biography:

Emory Healthcare biography:
http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/departments/heart/legends/andreas_gruentzig.html

Journey into the heart, by David Monagan, discusses Gruentzig in great detail:



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Key Insight




Key Experiments or Research




Quotes by the Scientist




Quotes About the Scientist




Anecdotes




Fun Trivia About the Science




The Science Behind the Discovery



Personal Information




Key Contributing Scientists to the Discovery




Scientific Discovery Timeline




Recommended Books About the Science




Books by the Scientist




Books About the Scientist

 



Awards




Major Academic Papers Written by the Scientist



Curriculum Vitae



Links to Information on the Science





Sources/References