Never Do Unto Others What You Wouldn't Do to Yourself

Albert B. Lowenfels, MD


June 23, 2015

A Scientist With Heart

Figure 4. Werner Forssmann. Image from Wikipedia

While a surgical resident in Germany, Werner Forssmann inserted a ureteral catheter into the right ventricle of his heart, hoping to administer medication by this central route. He confirmed the intracardiac location of the tip of the catheter with radiography. In 1929, Forssmann's superiors and contemporary doctors thought this procedure was hazardous, and it was nearly forgotten until two US physicians discovered the original report and realized the potential importance of the procedure for diagnosing heart disease.

This example of self-experimentation led directly to Forssmann's winning the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1956, along with Drs Cournand and Richards.[5,6] Today, cardiac catheterization is a major tool widely used for both diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.


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