Staff Finds: Coronary Angiography Catheter Molds Designed by Sven Paulin

By , June 20, 2018
Coronary angiography catheter molds designed by Sven Paulin. H MS c433. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Coronary angiography catheter molds designed by Sven Paulin. H MS c433. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

In 1964, Sven Paulin published his dissertation from his doctoral research at the University of Göteborg, Sweden, “Coronary Angiography: A Technical, Anatomic and Clinical Study.” It was quickly recognized as a landmark contribution to both fields of radiology and cardiology. He later went on to become Radiologist-in-Chief at Beth Israel Hospital (later Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) and the first Miriam H. Stoneman Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, Massachusetts. He is recognized as a pioneer in the field of cardiothoracic imaging, particularly in coronary angiography.

Phases in preparation of double-loop catheter. Page 19 of Sven Paulin's "Coronary Angiography: A technical, anatomic and clinical study." H MS c433. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Phases in preparation of double-loop catheter. Page 19 of Sven Paulin’s “Coronary Angiography: A technical, anatomic and clinical study.” H MS c433. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

In his dissertation, he presented an improved and less invasive process of coronary angiography: inserting a specially-designed double-loop catheter through the femoral artery in order to introduce a radiopaque contrast medium that would be detected through radiological imaging of the coronary artery. This technique was soon widely adopted. Paulin continued to work throughout his career to develop and refine the method, considering also the complications of coronary angiography, the side effects and toxicity of various contrast agents, and the quantification of coronary angiogram results.

Paulin designed molds for two catheter sizes (18mm and 24mm, pictured above) for the preparation of the new double-loop catheter. Molding the catheter was a multi-step process, as illustrated in his published dissertation. The catheter was first heated over an open flame, then threaded snugly through the grooves on the mold.  After securing in place with the metal cylinder case, the tip of the mold was immersed first in boiling water, then cooled in cold water. Finally, five holes were pierced into the side of the catheter, before rotating the catheter off of the mold.

Portable coil water heater used by Sven Paulin in the preparation of the double-loop catheter. H MS c433. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Portable coil water heater used by Sven Paulin in the preparation of the double-loop catheter. H MS c433. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

While processing the Sven Paulin papers, Center staff found the two catheter molds designed by Paulin during his doctoral research. The portable coil water heater that he used to boil water during the molding process is also part of the collection. These items will be transferred to the Warren Anatomical Museum collection.  Paulin’s papers also include his: teaching and lecture records (including lecture slides and cine angiogram film recordings); writings and publications; professional administrative records generated through his service at both Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School; records of his participation in professional radiology and cardiology organizations; and personal and professional correspondence, among other papers. For more information on the collection, please contact Jessica Sedgwick, Collections Services Archivist.

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