Dr. Claudio Schönholz was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He attended the National College of Buenos Aires, then graduated with honors from the School of Medicine at the University of Buenos Aires in 1980. After finishing his residency in diagnostic radiology, he completed a fellowship in vascular and interventional radiology at the Centre Cardiologuique du Nord in Paris, France with Professor Michel Tonnelier and Dr. Francis Besse. At that time, digital substraction angiography (DSA) was flourishing.
Dr. Schönholz built a private practice in his hometown with a multidisciplinary team of interventional cardiologists and interventional neurosurgeons. He and his colleague, Luis Augusto Lemme Plaghos, introduced many neurointerventional procedures in Argentina, including brain AVM embolization with glue, brain aneurysm coil embolization and carotid angioplasty.
In 1989 Dr. Schonholz met Dr. Juan Carlos Parodi, a vascular surgeon who was working in a small private hospital nearby. They discussed Dr. Parodi's project of using stent graft for the treatment of high risk patients with abdominal aortic aneurysms, as well as Dr. Schonholz's work with carotid angioplasty. As an experienced vascular surgeon and knowing the potential risks of distal embolization during carotid PTA, Dr. Parodi recommended quitting that “very dangerous procedure” and he invited Dr. Schonholz to join his stent graft project. At that time animal studies were taking place in Buenos Aires and San Antonio, Texas with Dr. Julio Palmaz.
In September 1990 the first human case of abdominal aortic aneurysm treated with stent graft was performed at the Buenos Aires Cardiovascular Institute. This innovative and minimal invasive technique completely changed the way vascular surgery is practice, as well as Dr. Schönholz's approach to patient care.
The stent graft technique attracted the attention of the medical community and Dr. Parodi and Dr. Schönholz's team was invited to perform and teach this new operation around the world. In October 1991, the Argentinean team was invited by Dr. Michel Henry and Dr. Max Amor to Nancy, France for a live case demonstration during the 2nd International Course of Peripheral Vascular Intervention. In December 1992, they went to the Montefiore Medical Center at Albert Einstein University in New York and performed the first stent graft procedure in the United States with Dr. Frank Veith and Dr. Michael Marin.
In the mid 1990s, Dr. Schönholz restarted discussions with Dr. Parodi about carotid angioplasty that lead to the development of cerebral protection devices that include a filter and the flow reversal technique for carotid artery stenting.
During the year 2000, he was invited to join the Department of Radiology at Louisiana State University in Shreveport and became director of vascular and interventional radiology. In January 2004, Dr. Schönholz moved to Charleston, South Carolina and joined the MUSC Department of Radiology and the heart & vascular center.