McGovern-Cornie Modification Heart Valve

Description (Brief)
This is an open cage, sutureless ball valve developed by Harry Cromie, an engineer, and Dr. George Magovern, MD. It uses an open cage design to lower chances of thrombosis. Its components include a Dacron ring and a silicone rubber poppet with barium sulphate (to make the valve radiopaque). There are titanium struts but no legs below the orifice. This valve differs from earlier valves because it can be implanted without sutures. Suturing valves in place often took forty-five minutes to an hour. The patients were sick before surgery, and they were often sick afterwards because of the time their hearts spent hooked up to heart-lung machine. Prolonged clamping of the aorta also caused injury. The longer the procedure, the higher the risk of irreparable heart damage and patient death. With a 90% patient mortality rate, Dr. Magovern was inspired to design something that would save time, and thus, patient's lives. He and Cromie collaborated in the latter's basement to develop a valve that would clamp into place with small teeth. They developed a claw like fixation device that did not require any sewing, and took approximately three to four minutes to attach. The ring has an upper and lower set of curved, pointed metal teeth. These hooks allowed for rapid fixation when time was most critical. The implantation of this valve required a special device--an insertion and removal instrument--that would rotate and engage the fixation pins with the aorta. After the inserting tool is removed, the rubber poppet is placed into the cage. With sutureless valves, there was an increased risk of perivalvular regurgitation (leaking) and postoperative thromboembolism. The production of these valves ceased in 1980. Magovern said, "I wouldn't say I was particularly skillful, but I was fast."
Dr. George Magovern (1924-2013) trained at George Washington University and helped to establish Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Harry Cromie is an engineer. They both went on to found Surgitool, Incorporated, which at the time became the leading U.S. company for heart-valve design.
Currently not on view
Object Name
artificial heart valve
date made
after 1962
Surgitool, Inc.
Physical Description
silicone rubber, barium sulphate (overall material)
titanium (overall material)
dacron (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
overall: 3.9 cm x 3.5 cm x 3.5 cm; 1 17/32 in x 1 3/8 in x 1 3/8 in
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Artificial Heart Valves
Artificial Organs
Health & Medicine
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Artificial Heart Valves
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Manuel Villafaña
Additional Media

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