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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 299-300

The Tale of Kantrowitz Brothers: A Dream to Support the Failing Heart!

1 Department of Anaesthesia, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Medical Sciences and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Cardiac Anaesthesia, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Medical Sciences and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission29-Jul-2020
Date of Decision24-Aug-2020
Date of Acceptance26-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication23-Dec-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Rohan Magoon
Department of Cardiac Anaesthesia, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Medical Sciences and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, New Delhi - 110 001
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jpcs.jpcs_73_20

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How to cite this article:
Jose J, Magoon R, Kohli JK, Kashav R. The Tale of Kantrowitz Brothers: A Dream to Support the Failing Heart!. J Pract Cardiovasc Sci 2020;6:299-300

How to cite this URL:
Jose J, Magoon R, Kohli JK, Kashav R. The Tale of Kantrowitz Brothers: A Dream to Support the Failing Heart!. J Pract Cardiovasc Sci [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Jan 19];6:299-300. Available from: https://www.j-pcs.org/text.asp?2020/6/3/299/304531

Dear Editor,

Arthur and Adrian, the Kantrowitz brothers, were born in the early part of the twentieth century in Bronx County, New York city to a costume designer named Rose and Bernard Kantrowitz, a physician. Elder of the two, Arthur was inclined toward electronics, later specializing in physics with fluid dynamics as the primary area of interest. Initially in 1936, he served as a physicist at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and later as a Professor of Aeronautical Engineering and Engineering Physics at Cornell University after obtaining a PhD in Physics from Columbia University. He went on to become the Director and Chief Executive Officer of AVCO-Everett Research Laboratory.[1],[2]

Adrian on the other hand told his mother at a tender age of three that he wanted to be a doctor and received his MD in 1943 from the Long Island College of Medicine, trained further in general and thoracic surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital and Montefiore Hospital, New York. His tryst with the failing heart began during his surgical residency and soon emerged as the central theme of research following his tenure as a battalion surgeon in the Army Medical Corps.[1],[2] While working under eminent physiologist Carl Wiggers, in pursuit of methods for augmenting coronary blood flow; he appreciated the significance of diastole in coronary perfusion.[3]

The brothers dreamt of devising an artificial heart by combining their respective skills in fluid dynamics and cardiothoracic surgery. In 1953, working together they found that it was possible to pulse aortic blood into the coronary arteries during diastole resulting in the understanding of the present day concept of “diastolic augmentation.” They concluded that a 20-40 percentage augmentation of coronary circulation was achievable, provided arterial pressure pulse peak is retarded till diastole.[4] This proved to be a turning point in their kinship, which paved way for a collective effort between the research group lead by Arthur at AVCO-Everett Research Laboratory in Massachusetts and Adrian at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn.[1]

Over a period of 15 years, they developed electronically controlled heart-lung machine, an internal cardiac pacemaker and an initial version of the left ventricular assist device (LVAD).[5] Around this period, experiments on devices employing carbon dioxide driven latex balloon via small plastic catheter (intra-aortic balloon pump, [IABP]) were being contemplated by researchers like Clauss et al.[6] In the year 1966, Dr. Adrian performed the world's 1st permanent implantation of LVAD and was also bestowed upon with the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement for his contribution to the development of an artificial heart implant. By 1967, the brothers had sufficiently studied an IABP with a nondistensible polyurethane balloon driven by helium as the shuttle gas and published a series of their clinical experience.[7] Later in this year, Dr. Adrian also performed the first pediatric human-to-human heart transplant in the United States.[8] In the late 1980s, he collaborated with Aisin Seiki Co. Ltd. to develop an automatic, closed-loop IABP system, marketed in Japan by the year 1993.

The exemplary bonds of brotherhood they shared culminated in the seamless blending of physics and medicine, leading to discoveries like pacemakers and LVADs. The Kantrowitz brothers, who spend the better half of a century developing and inspiring innovations to support a failing heart, ironically and unfortunately, succumbed to heart failure. Dr. Adrian passed away at the age of 90 in Michigan on November 14, 2008.[2] While Arthur himself received IABP support, failed to recover and his soul departed to its heavenly abode within 15 days of the demise of the younger brother. Nevertheless, the legacy of the brothers continues to provide a glimmer of hope of productive lives to the patients suffering from advanced heart failure.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Kantrowitz A. Origins of intraaortic balloon pumping. Ann Thorac Surg 1990;50:672-4.  Back to cited text no. 1
Cooley DA. In memoriam: Adrian Kantrowitz 1918-2008. Tex Heart Inst J 2009;36:1-3.  Back to cited text no. 2
Wiggers CJ. The functional importance of coronary collaterals. Circulation 1952;5:609-15.  Back to cited text no. 3
Kantrowitz A, Kantrowitz A. Experimental augmentation of coronary flow by retardation of the arterial pressure pulse. Surgery 1953;34:678-87.  Back to cited text no. 4
Kantrowitz A. A moment in history: introduction of left ventricular assistance. Trans Am Soc Artif Intern Organs 1987;19:3947.  Back to cited text no. 5
Clauss RH, Missier P, Reed GE, Tice D. Assisted circulation by counter-pulsation with an intraaortic balloon. Methods and effects. In: Digest, 15th Annual Conference on Engineering in Medicine and Biology. Vol. 4. Chicago: Northwestern University; 1962. p. 44.  Back to cited text no. 6
Kantrowitz A, Tjonneland S, Freed PS, Phillips SJ, Butner AN, Sherman JL Jr. Initial clinical experience with intraaortic balloon pumping in cardiogenic shock. JAMA 1968;203:135-40.  Back to cited text no. 7
Kalra A, Seth S, Hote MP, Airan B. The story of heart transplantation: from Cape town to Cape Comorin. J Pract Cardiovasc Sci 2016;2:120.  Back to cited text no. 8


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