Surgitool Sutureless Prosthetic Heart Valves Set

Description (Brief)
This stainless steel case contains a set of Magovern-Cromie Sutureless valves. They range from 19 to 20 centimeters long. Each holds a different size valve and poppet (ball), and are numbered 2 through 7. The inserters are used to implant the valve. Once inserted into place the surgeon rotated the handle so that the pins attach themselves to the aorta. The device is then removed and the ball or poppet is placed into the cage.
The Magovern-Cromie valve utilizes an open cage and titanium struts. Later versions used a Dacron sewing ring and silicone rubber poppet with barium sulphate. It often took at least an hour for surgeons to sew a new valve into the heart, which raised the risk of irreparable heart damage and patient death. This inspired Magovern to design something that would save time and patient's lives. He and Cromie collaborated in the latter's suburban Pittsburgh 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. The ring has twenty-four upper and twenty-four lower sets of small, curved, pointed metal teeth or hooks. These hooks allowed for rapid fixation when time was critical. Production of these valves ceased in 1980. With sutureless valves, there was an increased risk of leaking and postoperative thromboembolism.
The Magovern-Cromie valve is an example of how several redesigns were needed to eliminate structural flaws and create a viable valve. The original Magovern-Cromie valves were all metal. Gradually over a period of years several changes were adapted. A silastic cuff was added to prevent blood regurgitation. Teflon and later Dacron was used, and the poppet was impregnated with barium sulfate.
Newspaper stories recorded an instance of a Magovern-Cromie Sutureless valve being replaced in a patient after twenty-four years of service.
Dr. George Magovern (1924-2013) was a cardiac surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Machinist/engineer Harry Cromie eventually founded Surgitool Incorporated around 1969. Surgitool became one of the leading manufacturers of heart valves in the United States.
Currently not on view
Object Name
artificial heart valve, set
date made
after 1969
Surgitool, Inc.
Physical Description
metal (container material)
dacron, fabric (valve material)
silicone rubber, barium sulphate (valve material)
titanium (valve material)
metal (valve holder material)
container: 5.3 cm x 32.3 cm x 22.5 cm; 2 3/32 in x 12 23/32 in x 8 27/32 in
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Health & Medicine
Artificial Heart Valves
Artificial Organs
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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