Matters of the Heart

Examining the heart using X-ray technology

Katharina Schroll-Bakes
Published on October 1, 2021
<p>The seat of the soul, the sign of love, and the symbol of life – for millennia, there has been a certain mythology associated with the heart. Although advances in scientific research gradually debunked the myths surrounding the organ, it remained a mystery to the medical profession for a long time. Indeed, it was almost impossible to examine the heart of a living person until the early 20th century.<br><br>A key turning point came with the discovery of X-rays. For the first time, it was possible to visualize the heart inside the bodies of living people – although an X-ray examination required considerable patience around the turn of the 20th century. In those days, the process of capturing the image took several minutes, during which the patient was required to stay perfectly still. As the heart would beat hundreds of times over an exposure time of this length, it appeared as nothing more than a blurry shadow in the resulting X-ray image.</p>
Darstellung des Totengerichts, ca. 1250 v.Chr.
Röntgenaufnahme des Herzens mit dem „Blitzapparat“, um 1909

Results in a flash

Röntgenbild zur Dokumentation der Herzkatheteruntersuchung, der Katheter reicht bis in die rechte Herz-Vorkammer

Directly into the heart

X-ray image to document cardiac catheterization, showing the catheter extending into the right atrium
Image source: Forssmann, Werner: “Die Sondierung des rechten Herzens” [“Probing of the right heart”], Klinische Wochenschrift, No. 45, 1929

Siemens Angiograph 1952

Catheter on Screen

In constant motion

Klinische Lösungen von Siemens Healthineers

The clinical solutions from Siemens Healthineers provide support at every stage of treatment – from the initial diagnosis to therapeutic planning, surgical interventions, and follow-up care. 

Our digital heart twin 


Katharina Schroll-Bakes
Katharina Schroll-Bakes
By Katharina Schroll-Bakes

Expert for History Communication and Historian at the Siemens Healthineers Historical Institute