Division History

     History of Cardiac Care at Saint Louis University - A Tradition of Being First


  The Department of Medicine was founded in 1911 and in 1948, the section of Cardiology was recognized.  In its inception, the dedicated Section of Cardiology was established in order to focus on the teaching of cardiovascular disease.  In 1951, the first cardiac catheterization lab in the United States west of the Mississippi River was opened in St. Louis University Hospital under the direction of Dr. J. Gerard Mudd.  Also, in 1951, Dr. Robert Hellman became the first cardiology fellow at Saint Louis University.  Shortly thereafter, in 1956, the first open heart operation in St. Louis was performed at St. Louis University.  This was followed by the first prosthetic valve implanted in St. Louis in 1962, the first cardiac pacemaker implanted in St. Louis in 1965, and the first use of coronary bypass in St. Louis in 1969.  In 1971, the first heart transplant in the Midwest was performed at St. Louis University Hospital. 

  Following this tremendous time of innovation within the Midwest and the St. Louis region, the Division of Cardiology focused on developing excellence within noninvasive imaging by establishing one of the first echocardiographic laboratories in the nation.  Furthermore, the catheterization lab played a vital role in the development of coronary angioplasty, balloon valvuloplasty, and the understanding of invasive hemodynamic assessment of the cardiac patient.  During the 1980s, the faculty within the Division vigorously investigated the ability of Doppler echocardiography to mimic invasive hemodynamic parameters and cardiac disease.  Transesophageal echocardiography was established as a significant mode of investigating cardiac structures, especially valvular heart disease.  The use of the Doppler flow wire in the cath lab was validated and the lab continues to pioneer the use of physiologic coronary stenosis assessment today.  Furthermore, there was a significant effort amongst many of the faculty investigating the importance of preventive cardiac care.

  Today, the Division of Cardiology builds upon its rich tradition with a young and energetic faculty focused on patient care and teaching.