Cooley-Cutter Biconical Disc Heart Valve

Description (Brief)
The Cooley-Cutter heart valve was designed in the 1960s by Denton A. Cooley, MD, in collaboration with Cutter Laboratories, and introduced for clinical use in 1971. This is a non-tilting disc valve with a pyrolyte poppet and a double set of titanium struts. Non-tilting disc valves were advantageous with regards to limiting regurgitation of blood. They had a low profile design and were easy to implant. Issues with this valve included thromboembolic complications, higher rates of hemolysis, strut wear due to the hard pyrolytic and soft titanium, and significant turbulence in blood flow. In 1977, there were two reported cases of strut fracture--a failure that can be attributed to the "differential hardness" in the materials being used. This resulted in its discontinuation by 1978. The majority of these valves were implanted at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. Dr. Cooley gave Mr. Villafaña several valves for his collection including this Cooley-Cutter artificial heart valve.
Dr. Denton Cooley’s (1920- ) career parallels the development of heart surgery from its beginnings in the 1940s and 1950s. He was an intern for Dr. Alfred Blalock (1899-1964) who with Dr. Helen Taussig (1898-1986), were the first doctors to correct malformations of the heart by reconstructing the valves (Blalock-Taussig Operation.) Dr. Cooley considered this breakthrough, "the dawn of heart surgery." He received his medical training at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1944, and started a practice at Baylor College in Houston, TX.
Currently not on view
Object Name
artificial heart valve
date made
after 1973
Cutter Laboratories, Inc.
Physical Description
titanium (valve material)
cloth (valve material)
plastic (valve material)
pyrolytic carbon (valve material)
overall: 3.5 cm x 2.6 cm; 1 3/8 in x 1 1/32 in
place made
United States: California, Berkeley
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
serial number
A24 CA1909
Artificial Organs
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Artificial Heart Valves
Health & Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Manuel Villafaña
Additional Media

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