History Of Cardiac Surgery At Yale

  1. First use of penicillin to treat streptococcal sepsis on March 14th 1942. 
  2. Dr. Harvey Cushing spent the later years of his life at Yale and wrote an authoritative manuscript on meningiomas, considered a classic reference. 
  3. First artificial heart: developed by Sewell and William Glenn using a simple “Erector set”, it is now held in the Smithsonian museum. 
  4. First cardiac pacemaker: First radiofrequency induced cardiac pacing was performed at Yale in 1959, first in the United States. 
  5. Concepts and operative techniques in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery pioneered at Yale:
a. 1948 Replacement of cardiac function with a mechanical pump. Experiments with Sewell's pump, prototype of the first clinical ventricular assist device and artificial heart.
b. 1954 Vena cava-topulmonary artery shunt (i.e., Glenn shunt) to bypass malformed right ventricles. The first clinical application of the Yale technique was performed in 1958 (Patient is married and is working full-time 37 years later).
c. 1959 Long-term electrical stimulation of excitable tissue by the radio frequency (RF) inductive method. With its clinical introduction at Yale, the RF cardiac pacemaker became the first to be implanted in the Western hemisphere.
d. 1966 Radiofrequency diaphragmatic pacing; clinical application for patients with hypoventilation of central origin.
e. 1971 Diaphragm pacing for total ventilatory support in patients with respiratory paralysis. (Longest paced patient (1971) completed college and law school. Now pacing 16 hours daily, is married, lives at home and practices law).
f. 1980 Clinical application of method to condition skeletal muscle to resist fatigue with continuous electrical stimulation.
g. Other operative contributions include, safe suture technique for the division of patent ductus arteriosus, diverticulum technique for digital and instrumental operation in the functioning heart, controlled hypotension in aortic surgery, deliberate ventricular fibrillation to prevent air embolism in open heart procedures, “thimble” valvulotomy, demonstration of the efficacy of cardiomyoplasty and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
h. Damus-Kaye-Stansel procedure for double inlet left ventricle.