They are masters of the myocardial, men and women who spend their lives tinkering beneath the arterial hood, prepared to risk everything for a freshly cut ventricular restoration. We've chosen these kings of catheter not necessarily because they're the best at what they do, but because they've charisma in heaps, a cool head down the stretch, and a flair for the moment.

So relax, close your eyes, and count back from twenty. In reverse order, here they are, the cream of the cardiovascular circuit.

5. Dr. Scalpel (“The Blade”), MD, MS, INAL

Sketchy on protocol and with a serial killer's instincts for incisions, “The Blade” has an eye for a juicy cut. Wisconsin's bad boy of the theater moonlights as a knife thrower and hones his trade on farm equipment. Able to sniff out a heart murmur over the pounding of the Indy 500, Dr. Scalpel's trail of lawsuits is longer than a blue whale's intestines. Not one to be left alone with when the lights go down. Last one out's a fraidy cat.

4. Dr. Mario Trachea Bellissimo, MD, DO, ADAD

With his trademark surgical haute couture and the latest in hi-performance fabrics, the crème de la crème of the coronary bypass scrubs up like no one else. A drop back to fourth place after a sloppy mitral valve repair slowed his momentum, but no one in the know thinks “The Beautiful One” can't claw his way back. The fast-driving Italian's got the credentials, but then who here hasn't? The only question still unanswered, does he have the heart?

3. Carla Ventricole, PhD, MD, MTFBWU

After a five-in-a-row triple at the NurnburgRing in October, the doc looked like she had eyes on the top spot. With the light-fingered touch of Apollo Robbins, the only woman in the top five maintains she's not concerned with rankings, that her only priority is saving lives. Nice! But the Ring proved she can steal a heart or two down the straight, and just might take number one before the year's out.

2. Felix Aorta, DO, MBChB, MSNBC

No one does a mitral valve repair like Dr. F. He's brash, unpredictable, and thrives in the plush leather interior of the circulatory system. Who can forget his performance at Nardo when the power dropped out and he went in through the front with a Ryobi cordless. Old school isn't dead, and “The Tube” has the only man ahead of him locked in his sights.

1. Klaus von Bivalve, MD, MBBS, BRB

All the experience, more nerve than Danica Patrick's clitoris, and hands the pulmonary equivalent of a BMW massage parlor. Even so, the man who wrote The Art of the Aneurysm, and improvised with a mallet when the anesthetist showed up late from lunch, is not the man he once was. And we're only three weeks since young Billy Congenital almost bled out from a stent insertion. Ouch, that one must have hurt. With Aorta and Ventricole looming in his rear-view, the all-season doc is still the man to beat, but are his days numbered? “The Valve” needs a Thanksgiving heavy on Choriza Fried Mars Bars if he's to keep the top spot.


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