The beginning of the 20th century was marked by the organization and recognition of neurosurgery as a specialty. Correlation of pathological findings with clinical presentation led to the discovery and detection of brain tumors, cerebral aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, and intervertebral disk herniations. Physicians were able to indirectly delineate the presence of these various disease entities by using ventriculography and angiography, landmark imaging techniques introduced in the 1920s and 1930s. The introduction of radiation therapy in the 1950s and chemotherapy in the 1960s provided alternative treatments for the newly discovered brain neoplasms, which could not be cured by surgery alone. The introduction of shunts for the treatment of hydrocephalus saved millions of lives and was a significant advance in pediatric neurosurgery. In the 1960s, the use of steroids to treat cerebral edema was the beginning of the understanding of the metabolic complexity of the brain and methods of treating metabolic diseases.
Ausman JI. Achievements of the Last Century in Neurosurgery and a View to the 21st Century. Arch Neurol. 2000;57(1):61-62. doi:10.1001/archneur.57.1.61