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This brief timeline is intended to give an overview of the history of interventional cardiology. More in-depth information can be accessed through the links provided, as well as from the reference sources listed at the bottom of the page.
  • 3000 B.C. Egyptians perform bladder catheterizations using metal pipes.

  • 400 B.C. Catheters fashioned from hollow reeds and pipes are used in cadavers to study the function of cardiac valves.

    Hales performs catheterization on horse

  • 1711 Hales conducts the first cardiac catheterization of a horse using brass pipes, a glass tube and the trachea of a goose.
  • 1844 French physiologist Bernard coins the term "cardiac catheterization" and uses catheters to record intracardiac pressures in animals.

    Werner Forssmann performs self-catheterization

  • 1929 First documented human cardiac catheterization is performed by Dr. Werner Forssmann in Eberswald, Germany. (Click to see video)
  • 1941 Cournand and Richards employ the cardiac catheter as a diagnostic tool for the first time, utilizing catheter techniques to measure cardiac output.


  • 1956 Forssmann, Cournand and Richards share the Nobel Prize. Cournand states in his acceptance speech "the cardiac catheter was...the key in the lock."

    Mason Sones at Cleveland Clinic

  • 1958 The diagnostic coronary angiogram the key to selective imaging of the heart is discovered by Dr. Mason Sones

  • 1967 Dr. Rene Favaloro conducts first saphenous vein graft (bypass) surgery in Cleveland

    Melvin Judkins in lab

  • 1967 Introduction of the Judkins Technique of coronary angiography
  • 1974 Andreas Gruentzig performs first peripheral human balloon angioplasty

    Gruentzig's Poster Exhibit at 1976 AHA

  • 1976 Gruentzig presents results of animal studies of coronary angioplasty at American Heart Association meeting

    1st intraoperative angioplasty performed in San Francisco
  • 1977 First human coronary balloon angioplasty performed intraoperatively by Gruentzig, Myler and Hanna in San Francisco

    before / after of 1st PTCA patient
  • 1977 Andreas Gruentzig performs first cath lab PTCA on awake patient in Zurich; starting with this case, all PTCA data is entered into a worldwide registry

    Myler, Stertzer and Gruentzig in Zurich
  • 1978 First PTCA cases performed in America by Myler in San Francisco and Stertzer in New York; Gruentzig conducts first demonstration course in Zurich, Switzerland, attended by 28 pioneering physicians; International Dilatation Society is established

    Last PTCA course (1980) in Zurich
  • 1980 Gruentzig conducts the last of five demonstration courses in Zurich with Sones, Judkins and Dotter in attendance; he then moves to Atlanta, GA where be becomes Director of Interventional Cardiology at Emory University; National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute begins support of the existing PTCA registry; first 1000 angioplasties are performed worldwide; guiding catheters are introduced

  • 1982 over-the-wire coaxial balloon systems introduced, brachial guiding catheters & steerable guide wires are developed

  • 1985 A year of loss in the history of interventional medicine: Dotter, Sones, Judkins and Gruentzig all pass away nine months of each other; Gruentzig dies in a plane crash on Sunday night, October 27; on Monday, October 28, Richard Schatz, co-inventor of the Palmaz-Schatz stent, has an appointment to meet with Gruentzig

  • 1986 coronary atherectomy devices are introduced; Jacques Puel and Ulrich Sigwart implant the first coronary Wallstents in Toulose, France

    IVUS imaging
  • 1987-1993 a large number of new interventional devices are invented and perfected; some, like lasers, are less effective than hoped for; others are approved and used worldwide; these devices include rotational atherectomy devices (Rotablator), intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and stents
  • 1994 the Palmaz-Schatz stent is approved by the F.D.A. for use in the United States

  • 1994-1997 stents become commonplace and eliminate many complications

  • 1997 over one million angioplasties will be performed worldwide, making angioplasty the most common medical intervention in the world

  • 2001 almost two million angioplasties were performed worldwide, with an estimated increase of 8% annually

  • 2002 the 25th anniversary of the first angioplasty performed in an awake patient

  • 2003 the first drug-eluting stent, the Cypher, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson / Cordis, is approved by the F.D.A., marking a major advance in the battle to reduce restenosis to single digits

  • 2004 Boston Scientific gets its Taxus drug-eluting stent approved; many studies are published demonstrating the vastly improved outcomes from drug-eluting stents


References For further information on the history of PTCA, we recommend the following articles:
Mueller R. and Sanborn T.
The History of Interventional Cardiology, Am Heart J 1995;129:146-72
Myler R., Stertzer, S.
Coronary and Peripheral Angioplasty: Historic Perspective, Textbook of Interventional Cardiology (2nd Ed.) Vol. 1. Topol, E. (Ed.) WB Saunders Co., Philadelphia,1993
King, S.B.
Angioplasty From Bench to Bedside to Bench, Circulation 1996;93:1621-1629

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