Kurt Amplatz

Kurt Anton Amplatz (February 25, 1924 – November 6, 2019) was an Austrian radiologist and medical device inventor.[1] He is best known for the invention of the Amplatzer Septal Occluder as well as the Amplatzer Cribriform Occluder, which is used for closing atrial septal defect, a common congenital heart defects found in infants. These devices are inserted by percutaneous catheter placement, thus avoiding open heart surgery. In 1958, he performed one of the first percutaneous catheterizations of the heart. Amplatz spent most of his 40-year career in Radiology as the Chairman of Interventional Radiology at the University of Minnesota.

Kurt Amplatz
Kurt Anton Amplatz

(1924-02-25)February 25, 1924
Weistrach, Austria
DiedNovember 6, 2019(2019-11-06) (aged 95)
EducationUniversity of Innsbruck
Known forAmplatzer Cribriform Occluder
Amplatzer Septal Occluder

Early life and career

Kurt Amplatz was born on February 25, 1924 in Weistrach, Austria. He was raised in Senftenberg and later in Innsbruck. He attended the University of Innsbruck, graduating with a medical degree in 1951. He interned at the Universitätsklinikum St. Pölten and at St. John’s Hospital in Brooklyn. He completed his postgraduate work in radiology at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.[2]

Medical career

In 1957, he began working at the radiology faculty of the University of Minnesota Medical School. There he developed a device that allowed physicians to inject dye into the heart via a catheter. He also built a chair for use in pneumoencephalography for detection of brain tumors before CT scans. With his son, Curtis, he developed the Amplatzer Occluder, which introduced a mesh via a catheter that could close holes in the heart.[3]

Before retiring from the University of Minnesota in 1997, he formed his own company, AGA Medical. AGA designed and sold small devices that could close defects in the heart. Amplatz sold one third of the company to two partners, which ultimately led to internal conflict. Lawsuits between the partners resulted in a bidding process in which a private equity investor, Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, acquired more than half of the company.[4] The company was sold to St. Jude Medical in 2010 for more than $1 billion.[5]

Before leaving the company, Amplatz had accumulated more than 100 patents. He donated $1 million worth of his occluders to poor patients.[6]

Personal life

He was married to Maxine Amplatz and had four children.

Dr. Amplatz died on November 6 2019 at the age of 95.[7]


  1. American Men & Women of Science. Thomson/Gale. 2009. p. 1927. ISBN 1414433018.
  2. "Dr. Kurt Anton Amplatz". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Retrieved 2019-12-03.
  3. "Scientist at Work: Kurt Amplatz; At 79, a Pioneer of Heart Devices Is Not About to Quit Tinkering". New York Times. 2003-09-03.
  4. "St. Jude Is AGA's Final Destination After Wild Ride". Forbes. 2010-10-18.
  5. "St Jude to pay more than $1 billion to buy AGA Medical". Reuters. 2010-10-18.
  6. "Heart Device Partners Wage War". Chicago Tribune. 2004-01-25.
  7. "Dr. Kurt Amplatz, pioneering Minnesota inventor of treatment tools, dies at 95". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 2019-11-17.

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