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Surprising Science

Doctor Whoops!

The coronary angiogram was not discovered through scientific skill but via a medical accident.

“1958: In the basement laboratory of an Ohio hospital, a cardiologist accidentally injects a large amount of dye into the small vessels of a patient’s heart during a routine imaging test. To the doctor’s great surprise — and relief — the dye doesn’t send the heart into a fatal spasm, and this happy accident marks the birth of modern cardiac imaging,” reports Wired. Apparently before F. Mason Sones Jr made his error it was believed that the injection of dye into the arteries would result in death from ventricular fibrillation. Sones’ mistake led to a breakthrough in cardiac imaging but the event itself threw Sones and all the surrounding medical staff into a panic, crying “We’ve killed him” and preparing to open him up to massage his heart. “Cardiac imaging is thought to have saved the lives of countless heart patients during the last 50 years. Perhaps most of those saved owe their lives to a serendipitous medical error in 1958.”


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