Cauterization in the treatment of neurological-neurosurgical diseases by Charles E. Brown-Séquard and Jean-Martin Charcot

Willem SELLEN
Medisch Centrum Alkmaar, The Netherlands

Cauterization is one of the oldest means of treatment. Pain, in general, is the most frequent indication for its use and it is still widely practiced in folk medicine and in primitive societies throughout the world. Unknown to many neurologists and neurosurgeons is the fact that Charles E. Brown-Séquard and Jean-Martin Charcot also used cauterization in their attempts to cure neurological diseases.

During my 12 years as a neurosurgeon in the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I travelled to many Arab countries and met many cauterized patients and their healers. Beginning in 1989 I have built up an extensive collection of world literature relating to cauterization.

Greek and Arab medicine mentions the healing power of cautery for neurological-neurosurgical diseases. Cauterization continued throughout the ages and was practiced in the 19th century by Brown-Séquard and Charcot in the treatment of epilepsy, in paralysis and other neurological-neurosurgical diseases. Brown-Séquard and Charcot are famous for their achievements in neurology and their names are eponymous for their respective syndromes. I would like to bring to your attention the fact that both were using intensive cauterization to treat neurological and neurosurgical diseases.


Poster Session
Tuesday, 5 July 2005, 12.00 - 12.30 pm

Tenth Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) and
Tenth Meeting of the European Club for the History of Neurology (ECHN)

St. Andrews, Scotland, 2005