Hufnagel Leaflet Valve

Description (Brief):

This single heart leaflet or cusp was used to replace or supplement a compromised natural leaflet. One, two or three leaflets could be surgically implanted. The leaflets were made of polypropylene mesh and impregnated with silicone rubber. Charles A. Hufnagel, MD, the inventor believed polypropylene leaflets would be a better design solution than the ball and cage model because it provided better dynamics. He acknowledged that only a few of these leaflets worked well, "those leaflets were the only leaflets, I think, that really lasted for any significant length of time." The single leaflets were later used to develop a trileaflet valve which looked similar to a natural human valve.

Description (Brief)

Dr. Charles Hufnagel, (1916-1989) graduated in 1941 from Harvard Medical School. While a resident at Boston’ Children’s Hospital he worked with pioneer cardiac surgeon Dr. Robert Gross. In 1950 he left the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston to becoame the Director of Georgetown University Medical Research laboratory. In September 1952, he implanted the first artificial heart valve which consisted of a ball of plastic inside a chambered tube. Hufnagel also made significant contributions to the development of the modern heart-lung machine.

Date Made: ca 1960

Maker: Brunswick Manufacturing Company

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Massachusetts, Quincy

Subject: CardiologyProsthesisArtificial Organs


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Medicine, Artificial Heart Valves, Health & Medicine


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Manuel Villafaña

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2015.0031.07Catalog Number: 2015.0031.07Accession Number: 2015.0031

Object Name: cardiologyartificial heart valveartificial heart cuspartificial heart leaflet

Physical Description: polypropylene mesh (leaflet material)silicone rubber (leaflet material)Measurements: overall: 2 cm x 3.1 cm; 25/32 in x 1 7/32 in


Record Id: nmah_1726281

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.