Forssmann, Werner

Forssmann, Werner

(vĕr`nər fôrs`män), 1904–79, German physician and physiologist, M.D. Univ. of Berlin (1929). In the late 1920s, he developed the technique of cardiac catheterization, whereby a long tube (catheter) is inserted into a vein in the arm and pushed through the vein until it reaches the heart. Forssmann first performed this technique on himself. He also injected radio-opaque contrast media into his heart and took x-rays revealing the chambers of the heart. His work was not recognized until after World War II, when André F. CournandCournand, André Frederic
, 1895–1988, American physician and physiologist, b. France, B.A. Sorbonne, 1913, M.D. Univ. of Paris, 1930. He emigrated to the United States in 1930 and was naturalized in 1941.
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 and Dickinson W. RichardsRichards, Dickinson Woodruff, Jr.,
1895–1973, American physician and physiologist, b. Orange, N.J., grad. Yale, 1917, M.D. Columbia, 1923. He joined the staff of the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia in 1928 and became professor of medicine in 1945.
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, working in the United States, demonstrated the importance of catheterization to the diagnosis of heart and lung diseases. Forssmann and the two Americans shared the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Forssmann, Werner


Born Aug. 29, 1904, in Berlin. German surgeon and urologist.

Forssmann graduated from the medical faculty of the Friedrich-Wilhelm University in Berlin in 1928. In 1956 he became a professor of surgery and urology at the Johann-Gutenberg University in Mainz. From 1964 to 1970 he was an honorary professor at the Medical Academy in Düsseldorf and a professor at the University of Düsseldorf.

In 1929, Forssmann developed a method for the catheterization of the heart, which he tested on himself by passing a tube into his right atrium through a cubital vein. Two years later he used this method in angiocardiography. In 1956, Forssmann shared a Nobel Prize with A. Cournand and D. Richards.


“Die Sondierung des rechten Herzens.” Klinische Wochenschrift, 1929, vol. 8, no. 45.


Knipping, H. and W. Bolt. “Glückwunsch für W. Forssmann.” Medizinische Klinik, 1956, vol. 51, no. 49.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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