Trendelenburg31 first proposed his operative procedure for the removal of pulmonary emboli in 1908. The first successful pulmonary embolectomy was carried out by Kirschner17 in 1924, while the first success in the United States was reported by Steenburg and associates29 at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in 1958. Between 1924 and 1960 there were a number of successful attempts at pulmonary embolectomy as outlined in Table 1. Most of the operations during the early period of pulmonary embolectomy, however, were doomed to failure because of the limited time available for complete removal of clots from the pulmonary arteries. Allison1 in 1960 successfully utilized total body hypothermia for embolectomy in a patient 13 days after the occurrence of the pulmonary embolus. This perhaps laid the groundwork for future attempts at embolectomy utilizing extracorporeal circulation.
It was inevitable with recent advances in cardiac surgery, particularly in relation to the
CROSS FS, JONES RD, MOWLEM A. Acute Pulmonary EmbolismSurgical Management Using Cardiopulmonary By-Pass. Arch Surg. 1964;89(1):159-169. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1964.01320010161017