The birth of a neurosurgery clinic in Europe: three case studies

Boleslav L. LICHTERMAN <licht@aha.ru>
Russian Postgraduate Medical Academy, Moscow, Russia

The aim of this paper is to trace the emergence of a new specialty of neurosurgery in Great Britain, France and former USSR and put it in into a broader cultural context. The process of its birth lasted for several decades but it was in the interwar period when the first full-time neurosurgeons appeared, professional societies were formed, university chairs and academic institutions founded, and neurosurgical periodicals launched. Due to its links with basic neuroscience, neurosurgery was experimental in its nature. It was often viewed as a kind of applied neurophysiology which, according to Nikolai Burdenko (1876-1946), has to follow three basic principles: anatomical availability, technical possibility and physiological permissibility.

There are several levels of studying neurosurgical history: technical (introduction of electrocoagulation, new instruments, cerebral angiography, etc.), organizational (structure of neurosurgery clinics, referral and research policies) and political (a shift of interest to head injuries in the late 1930's due to impending war with Germany, for example). A comparative history of neurosurgery in three European states in the 1920's and 1930's reveals striking similarities and sharp contrasts between them which reflect the impact of social and economic factors.


Session VII -- Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery
Tuesday, 13 June 2000, 2:00 - 2:30 pm

Fifth Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN)

Providence, Rhode Island, USA