Forssmann, Werner (vĕrˈnər fôrsˈmän) [key], 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. Cournand and Dickinson W. Richards, 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.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.