Posts Tagged ‘nobel prize for cardiac catheterisation’

Medical science has grown ( and growing )  in an  astonishing pace. Many of the  inventions  which were  considered as  major break throughs   have fallen on the wayside over the years . Of course ,  quite a few  withstood the test of time .

One of  the great inventions  of last century  is per-cutaneous interventions  inside the human coronary artery .

The concept was first conceived and executed by Andreas  Gruentzig  of  Germany in year 1977.  Now , at-least a  million PCIs  are done every year to tackle  CAD  with greatly  improved knowledge base, evidence ,  hardware,  techniques and expertise .

PTCA  is  an  invention worth a Nobel prize . . .well , that’s what we cardiologists feel. The Nobel committee  seems to think otherwise .

What could  be the reasons ?

  1. PTCA is  simply an extension of an old invention. Already the  inventors  of the  cadiac catheterization were  conferred with  Nobel prize (Forssman, Cournand,Richards)  . Hence , it is a sort of duplication of  invention . If Gruentzig is conferred a Nobel prize  the man who discovered the  coronary  stent (A plaque scaffolding device)  will  argue he too deserve  a  Nobel !
  2. What Gruentzig  did  was  in-fact a fundamental  human  response  by Instinct !  .When you encounter  a mechanical obstruction on the road   just try to overcome it . “Here is an obstruction impeding the blood flow , let  me  remove it”  . He did this  with  a wire and balloon . There is not much intellectual  innovation . It was  delivery of a mechanical force through a wire  .   But what the  Nobel  committee should take it to account is , he did this  in live human beating heart  and  cured of his illness most dramatically avoiding a need for surgery.
  3. Finally  comes the vital question. What is the impact of this invention in the health of mankind. ? How  many lives have been  saved when compared to other modalities to treat the   coronary artery disease ? *.This again is not convincingly answered  especially in    stable angina  , for which Geuentzig  originally developed this modality  . One popular argument  is , in terms of life saved and sufferings  relived oral rehydration  fluid  or penicillin  would beat PTCA most convincingly !

* Another possible reason is ,  the  Nobel medical committee is probably well aware of the  perennial  controversy  about  role of  Medicine vs Surgery vs PCI on the outcome   CAD  and  the  superiority of one over the other !

Final message

Whatever  be the reasoning  ,  Nobel committee has to  rethink .  Cardiologists  all over the world   would definitely  agree  if one man who have  made a  huge difference in their patient’s  life ,  it must be  Gruentzig  .

It is well-known  Nobel prize  is given  for path breaking  research that  break  new grounds like  decoding  cosmic mysteries ,  expansion of universe  , cell signalling ,  molecular mimicry  and the  stuff  like that .

Still ,  Gruentzig  definitely  deserves  a Nobel  solely  for  the novelty  in his  procedure  and in the process it helped  avoid  surgery in vast majority of heart patients.








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