Technological breakthroughs in surgery don’t always attract as much public excitement as those in smartphones or self-driving cars, but they have in many ways been at least as life-altering.
Thomas Fogarty’s invention of the balloon catheter in 1961, which allowed surgeons to remove blood clots in a one-hour procedure, launched a revolution in “minimally invasive” technologies that radically simplified surgery on everything from knees to heart valves and brain tumors. Robotics, 3D imaging and computer-guided ultrasound are expanding the surgical boundaries even further.
Practicing surgeons like Fogarty have fueled much of this innovation. They understand the medical challenges better than anybody. They are expert users who see opportunities to improve on current technologies, and they constantly exchange ideas when they talk shop. Like Fogarty, many surgeons are tinkerers and entrepreneurs in their own right.