Cutler's Valvuotome

Description (Brief)
The first successful operation for the relief of Mitral stenosis, a condition which causes the Mitral valve to stiffen and not fully open thereby restricting the flow of blood was performed May 20, 1923 by Doctors Elliott Cutler (1888-1947) and Samuel Levine (1891-1966) on a young girl using a long narrow tenotomy knife.
Because of the tough nature of the calcification which leaves the valve stiff and unable to open and close properly Cutler saw the need for a stronger instrument.
The Cardiovalvulotome or valvulotome was developed for just this operation. To punch into the tissue and secure pieces of calcification from the Mitral valve before floating away into the blood system and causing an embolism. The initial experiments were done on dogs. .
Cutler and Dr. Claude Beck (1894-1971) continued to experiment on dogs. Cutler and Beck operated on patients, but there were no more successes. Subsequent operations with the valvulotome were not successful
The Valvulotome is marked “Codman and Shurtleef, Boston, Stainless”.
Currently not on view
Object Name
surgical instrument
date made
ca 1924
Codman and Shurtleff Incorporated
Physical Description
stainless steel (overall material)
overall: 21 cm x 4 cm; 8 9/32 in x 1 9/16 in
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Medical Procedure- Surgery
Surgical instruments
Health & Medicine
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Claude Beck, M.D.
Additional Media

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