New Surgical Procedures
In the 1940s and 1950s performing surgery inside the heart was uncommon and very risky—and often surgery was just a temporary fix. As new surgical operations to repair and replace diseased heart valves were devised, surgeons and instrument-makers developed specialized instrumentation.
If the right type of instrument was not available, surgeons often improvised. They would borrow instruments from other surgical disciplines, such as orthopedics or ophthalmology. Inspiration and ingenuity came from many places. Sometimes they would use their index finger to dilate the valve. One medical resident found that using an eyelash curler worked well to retract valve leaflets.