Minimally Invasive Surgery


Dr. Thomas J. Fogarty came up with the idea for the balloon embolectomy catheter for removing blood clots. It was the first minimally invasive surgery technique.

Artificial Heart


Paul Winchell, the ventriloquist and inventor, patented the first artificial heart, developed in collaboration with Dr. Henry J. Heimlich.

Portable Defibrillator


Dr. Frank Pantridge installed the first portable defibrillator in an ambulance in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It weighed 150 pounds and was powered by a car batteries.

Heart Transplant


Dr. Christiaan Barnard, a South African, performed the first human heart transplant.

CT Scanner


The first commercial CT scanner, developed by Dr. Godfrey Hounsfield. Dr. Hounsfield gained the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his invention.

Insulin Pump


An inventor and entrepreneur, Dean L. Kamen, patented the first insulin pump. He became perhaps even better known for a later invention, the Segway transporter.



Raymond Damadian went on to build the first MRI scanner by hand, assisted by his two post-doctoral students, Michael Goldsmith and Larry Minkoff

First cochlear implant surgery


Graeme Clarke in Australia carries out the first cochlear implant surgery. Advances in integrated circuit technology enable him to design a multiple electrode receiver-stimulator unit about the size of a quarter.

Deep-brain electrical stimulation system


France’s Alim-Louis Benabid, chief of neurosurgery at the University of Grenoble, implants a deep-brain electrical stimulation system into a patient with advanced Parkinson’s disease. The experimental treatment is also used for dystonia, a debilitating disorder that causes involuntary and painful muscle contractions and spasms, and is given when oral medications fail.

Synthetic Blood


The first synthetic blood, Fluosol-DA, was approved for human use. It was withdrawn from the market in 1994. The search for a blood substitute goes on, and there is none in use in clinical practice.