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Langendorff's apparatus

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An apparatus for artificial perfusion of an excised animal heart.

The principle of the Langendorff apparatus consists in providing the heart with oxygen and nutrients via a perfusate, i.e. blood or physiological solutions. This perfusate is contained in a reservoir and enters the coronary arteries via a cannula, which is inserted into the Aorta ascendens. After opening the reservoir, the pressurized perfusate enters the ostia at the basal Aorta ascendens. The aortic valve closes due to the hydrostatic pressure, identical to the in situ heart during diastole. Modulated by systole and diastole, the perfusate passes through the coronary system.

The method has become a fundamental tool in pharmacological and physiological research as well as in cardiac surgery and in cardiac preservation.

In 1866, Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig (1816-1895) together with Elias Cyon (1842-1912) had developed the first isolated, perfused frog heart preparation. In 1883, Henry Newell Martin (1848-1893) developed a system to perfuse isolated mammalian hearts. On February 25 1895, Langendorff finally succeeded in isolating and perfusing the mammalian heart which continued to beat and pump blood for several hours.


  • C. Ludwig:
    Beiträge zur Kenntnis des Einflusses der Respirationsbewegungen auf den Blutlauf im Aortensysteme.
    Archiv für Anatomie, Physiologie und wissenschaftliche Medicin, 1847: 242-302.
  • E. Cyon:
    Über den Einfluss der Temperaturänderungen auf Zahl, Dauer und Stärke der Herzschläge.
    Berichte über die Verhandlungen der Königlich Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig. Mathematisch-Physische Classe, 1866, 18: 256-306.
  • O. Langendorff:
    Untersuchungen am überlebenden Säugethierherzen.
    Archiv für die gesammte Physiologie des Menschen und der Thiere, Bonn, 1895, 61: 291–332.
    (Investigations on the Surviving Mammalian Heart)
  • O. Langendorff:
    Geschichtliche Betrachtungen zur Methode des überlebenden Warmblüterherzens.
    Münchener medizinische Wochenschrift, 1903, 50: 508–509.
  • H. N. Martin:
    The direct influence of gradual variations of temperature upon the rate of beat of the dog's heart.
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1883, 174: 663–688.

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