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July 27, 1940

SURGICAL NEUROLOGY AND BIOLOGYCHAIRMAN'S ADDRESS

JAMA. 1940;115(4):261-263. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810300001001
Abstract

Although cranial surgery was undoubtedly practiced by prehistoric man and by his descendants, little progress was made, and this type of surgery, apart from the relief of demons in individuals suffering from epilepsy and psychoses, was confined to the treatment of wounds and fractures and of other externally visible conditions until the last quarter of the last century. At that time a renaissance of interest in the nervous system was initiated by Fritsch and Hitzig in Germany and by a band of eager spirits in England, which included Jackson, Ferrier and Horsley, to mention only a few. Their studies provided that minimum of information necessary to the beginning of the surgical treatment of those intracranial lesions not visible externally; to permit of the localization of such lesions by deductive reasoning. This beginning was made by Alexander Hughes Bennett, who first so localized an intracranial tumor and persuaded Godlee to operate on it. Sir Victor Horsley, who himself had no small part in the actual experiments which made this development possible, was, however, the first to establish intracranial surgery on a firm basis. Unfortunately, although Horsley's main interest was concerned with the nervous system rather than with surgery, his successors, imitators and pupils were, in the main, general surgeons with little or no interest in the nervous system. They were thus neither interested nor capable of advancing this field of medicine. It is not

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