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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 29-30

Dr. Thomas J. Fogarty: The real face of minimally invasive vascular surgery

Department of Vascular Surgery, Yashoda Super Speciality Hospital, Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Date of Web Publication13-Apr-2016

Correspondence Address:
Devender Singh
Department of Vascular Surgery, Yashoda Super Speciality Hospital, Hyderabad, Telangana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-0820.180213

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How to cite this article:
Singh D. Dr. Thomas J. Fogarty: The real face of minimally invasive vascular surgery. Indian J Vasc Endovasc Surg 2016;3:29-30

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Singh D. Dr. Thomas J. Fogarty: The real face of minimally invasive vascular surgery. Indian J Vasc Endovasc Surg [serial online] 2016 [cited 2022 Jan 27];3:29-30. Available from:

Thomas Fogarty is a well-known medical inventor. His nature to design and build dates back to his childhood. While being raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, he was constantly being innovative. In fact, he is responsible for the centrifugal clutch used today in simple motors.

Working at Cincinnati's Good Samaritan Hospital as an equipment cleaner and later a scrub technician led him to medicine. He was able to observe the conduct of operations and grew interested in the complications. Fogarty decided that making surgery minimally invasive and more cost and time effective would be his ambition.

He studied for his MD at the University of Cincinnati Medical School. In 1960, while still a student he designed his most significant contribution to vascular surgery. Advancing from a prototype consisting of the fingertip of a latex glove, a catheter, fine thread, and cement, he invented the Fogarty® balloon angioplasty catheter. This is a polyethylene catheter with an inflatable tip. Fogarty patented the catheter in 1969. Edward Life Sciences Corporation now markets it.

The percutaneous transluminal balloon catheter is used to improve vessel patency following embolus formation. The deflated catheter is passed down to the embolus where it is inflated. As the catheter is pulled back, the embolus is expelled by the balloon via the arteriotomy. Angioplasty, in addition to thrombolysis, is very effective in returning vessel patency. The procedure is used, especially in the coronary arteries and in acute limb ischemia to prevent critical ischemia. It is minimally invasive; the procedure takes less than an hour and can be done under local anesthesia.

Dr. Charles Dotter performed the world's first balloon angioplasty in 1965. Over 650,000 coronary artery angioplasty operations are performed each year. Fogarty has continued to improve the catheter to reduce the traumatic impact of surgery.

Fogarty's enterprising nature led him to initiate or assist companies to produce devices using his ideas. He is the founder or co-founder of 25 such companies including ACS, AneuRx, DVI, and Ventritrex. Finally, in 1980 he established Fogarty Engineering to pursue ideas for medical devices. Collaborating with Mark Van and Wilf Jaeger, he established Three Arch Partners. This company is one of the sponsors of Stanford University's Medical Device Network Support. The aim was to create funds for young inventors.

Fogarty has gone on to make other contributions to vascular surgery. His main interests are peripheral revascularization and aortic aneurysm surgery. The Fogarty surgical clips and clamps have allowed vessels to be temporarily occluded during surgery. The aortic stent-graft was also an idea Fogarty built on. It is used to avoid major abdominal surgery as treatment for life-threatening aneurysms. It transformed mortality from 5-10 to 1% mortality while almost halving the price of the operation to $25,000. Fogarty collaborated with Warren

Hancock to produce the Hancock tissue heart valve which was the first porcine valve. Fogarty has invented devices outside his main interest of vascular surgery. One such invention was a mammotome breast biopsy system allowing less invasive investigative techniques.

Fogarty has been commended for his contributions many times by gaining prestigious awards. These include inventor of the year 1980, from the San Francisco Patent and Trademark Association, and the Ernst and Young Northern California 1998 Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He has authored over 170 books and has held surgical positions at Sequoia Hospital, California and Stanford University Medical Centre where he is currently Professor of Surgery. He is an active member of many organizations and has been president of the Society for Vascular Surgery.

Recently, Fogarty was awarded the highly acclaimed $500,000 Lemelson-Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Prize. The Lemelson-MIT program was established in 1994 at the MIT by Jerome H. Lemelson. The annual award celebrates an outstanding innovative contribution to science engineering, medicine, and entrepreneurship. In April 2000 Fogarty received it.

The latest award highlighted his amazing contributions. Dr. William R. Brody, President of the John Hopkins University who trained Fogarty described him as "consummate inventor, always tinkering and trying new ways of approaching problems." He adds "he has single-handedly changed the face of cardiovascular surgery."

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