Artificial Heart Valve

Artificial Heart Valve

Developed by Dr. Charles Hufnagel in 1952, the first artificial heart valve, also known as the caged ball, represented the first long-term success in prosthetic heart valves that would in turn, come to shape modern medical practice around the use and development of artificial organs. The valve  utilized a metal cage to store a silicone elastomer ball. When the blood pressure inside of the chamber in the heart would exceed that of the pressure on the outside of the chamber the ball would be pushed up against the cage and would then allow the blood flow accordingly. Once the hearts contraction was completed, the pressure inside of the hearts chamber drops and is lower than the valve the ball will move back to the base of the valve to form the seal.

Dr. Charles A Hufnagel

Chales HufnagelDr. Charles A. Hufnagel was born in Louisville Kentucky in 1917 and was a graduate of Harvard medical school where he studied organ transplantation. Hufnagel, in 1950 joined the faculty at Georgetown University as director of the surgical research laboratory and professor of surgery where he created the first artificial heart valve. In 1969, Dr. Hufnagel became the chairman of the department of surgery for the next 10 years. He died at age 72 holding a position as professor emeritus at Georgetown University.