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Antonio Di Ieva and Jeffrey V. Rosenfeld

Giovanni Andrea Dalla Croce was a Venetian physician who lived in the 16th century and was famous for his treatment of wounds, which was surprisingly modern. He was the military surgeon of the Venetian Republic’s naval fleet. In 1537, he published the Chirurgiae universalis opus absolutum (The absolute work on universal surgery) in Latin, then expanded and translated into vernacular Italian and published in 1574 with the title Cirugia universale e perfetta di tutte le parti pertinenti all’ottimo chirurgo (Universal and perfect surgery of all the parts necessary for the optimal surgeon). This monumental work was a comprehensive handbook of surgery, medicine, and the treatment of many kinds of wounds with techniques to be used on the battlefield. It is also notable for the inclusion of illustrations of various weapons and projectiles, for the most comprehensive description and illustrations of surgical instruments at that time, and for the first illustrations of a surgeon performing trephination of the skull in an operating room. Dalla Croce also considered the writings of his surgical forebears in formulating his own ideas. Dalla Croce was a leader of traumatology, a universal surgeon who exemplified the erudite Renaissance man, and left a tremendous legacy to military surgery of the 16th century and beyond.

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Ivo Kehayov, Petar Uchikov, Tanya Kitova, and Borislav Kitov

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Marian T. Park, Giancarlo Mignucci-Jiménez, Lena Mary Houlihan, and Mark C. Preul

During the 1536 siege of Turin in northern Italy, a young French barber-surgeon abandoned the conventional treatment of battle-inflicted wounds, launching a revolution in military medicine and surgical techniques. Ambroise Paré (1510–1590) was born into a working-class Huguenot family in Laval, France, during an era when surgery was not considered a respectable profession. He rose from humble origins as a barber-surgeon, a low-ranked occupation in the French medical hierarchy, to become a royal surgeon (chirurgien ordinaire du Roi) serving 4 consecutive French monarchs. His innovative ideas and surgical practice were a response to the environment created by new military technology on 16th-century European battlefields. Gunpowder weapons caused unfamiliar, complicated injuries that challenged Paré to develop new techniques and surgical instruments. Although Paré’s contributions to the treatment of wounds and functional prosthetics are documented, a deeper appreciation of his role in military neurosurgery is needed. This paper examines archives, primary texts, and written accounts by Paré that reveal specific patient cases highlighting his innovative contributions to neurotrauma and neurosurgery during demanding and harrowing circumstances, on and off the battlefield, in 16th-century France. Notably, trepanation indications increased because of battlefield head injuries, and Paré frequently described this technique and improved the design of the trepan tool. His contribution to neurologically related topics is extensive; there are more chapters devoted to the nervous system than to any other organ system in his compendium, Oeuvres. Regarding anatomical knowledge as fundamentally important and admiring the contemporary contributions of Andreas Vesalius, Paré reproduced many images from Vesalius’ works at his own great expense. The manner in which Paré’s participation in military expeditions enabled collaboration with multidisciplinary artisans on devices, including surgical tools and prosthetics, to restore neurologically associated functionality is also discussed. Deeply religious, in a life filled with adventure, and serving in often horrendous conditions during a time when Galenic dogma still dominated medical practice, Paré developed a reputation for logic, empiricism, technology, and careful treatment. "I have [had] the opportunity to praise God, for what he called me to do in medical operation, which is commonly called surgery, which could not be bought with gold or silver, but by only virtue and great experimentation."

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Brandon A. Sherrod, Christopher G. Wilkerson, John D. Rolston, Erica F. Bisson, Marcus D. Mazur, William T. Couldwell, and Andrew T. Dailey

Ralph B. Cloward (1908–2000) was the sole neurosurgeon present during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Cloward operated on 42 patients in a span of 4 days during the attacks and was awarded a commendation signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945 for his wartime efforts. During the attacks, he primarily treated depressed skull fractures and penetrating shrapnel wounds, but he also treated peripheral nerve and spine injuries in the aftermath. His techniques included innovative advancements such as tantalum cranioplasty plates, electromagnets for intracranial metallic fragment removal, and the application of sulfonamide antibiotic powder within cranial wounds, which had been introduced by military medics for gangrene prevention in 1939 and described for penetrating cranial wounds in 1940. Despite the severity of injuries encountered, only 2 soldiers died in the course of Cloward’s interventions. As the sole neurosurgeon in the Pacific Theater until 1944, he remained in Honolulu through World War II’s duration and gained immense operative experience through his wartime service. Here, the authors review the history of Cloward’s remarkable efforts, techniques, injury patterns treated, and legacy.

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Andrea Franzini, Zefferino Rossini, Maria Pia Tropeano, Piero Picozzi, Franco Servadei, and Federico Pessina

During the Greco-Italian War (World War II [WWII], 1940–1941), an Italian field hospital was set up in Sinanaj, Albania. The hospital’s military surgeons carefully collected information about the characteristics and management of patients with war-related injuries. In 1942, they published a detailed report, with a section dedicated to the management of war-related head injuries. The aim of this report is to analyze that section, to describe the characteristics and neurosurgical management of war-related head injuries, and to depict the status of war neurosurgery in the Royal Italian Army during WWII. The analysis revealed that, during the Greco-Italian War (November 1940–April 1941), 149 patients with war-related head injuries were admitted to the Sinanaj hospital, and 48 patients underwent surgery. Head injuries were caused by bomb fragments in 126 patients, bullets in 5 patients, and other causes (falls from height, vehicle accidents, or rock fragments) in 18 patients. Six patients (12.5%) died after surgery. Before surgery, patients underwent resuscitation with blood transfusions and fluid. Preoperatively, a plain head radiograph was usually acquired to locate metallic and bone fragments. The surgical technique consisted of craniotomy or craniectomy, aggressive debridement of metallic and bone fragments, and watertight dural closure. Surgical drainage, overall aseptic technique, serial spinal taps, and perioperative antibiotics were used to prevent infections. The surgical aims and technique used by the Italian surgeons for the management of head injuries were similar to those of the Allied surgeons during WWII. Operative mortality was also comparable. Although the surgical technique for war-related head injuries has evolved since WWII, many aspects of the technique used by the Italian and Allied surgeons during WWII are still in the standard of care today.

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Johan Pallud, Giorgia Antonia Simboli, Alessandro Moiraghi, Alexandre Roux, and Marc Zanello

Following France’s entry into World War I on August 3, 1914, Thierry de Martel (1875–1940), the French neurosurgery pioneer, served on the front line and was wounded on October 3, 1914. He was then assigned as a surgeon in temporary hospitals in Paris, where he published his first observations of cranioencephalic war wounds. In 1915, de Martel met Harvey Cushing at the American Hospital in Neuilly, where de Martel was appointed chief surgeon in 1916. In 1917, he published with the French neurologist Charles Chatelin a book (Blessures du crâne et du cerveau. Clinique et traitement) with the aim to optimize the practice of wartime brain surgery. This book, which included the results of more than 5000 soldiers with head injuries, was considered the most important ever written on war neurology at that time and was translated into English in 1918 (Wounds of the Skull and Brain; Their Clinical Forms and Medical and Surgical Treatment). In this book, de Martel detailed the fundamentals of skull injuries, classified the various craniocerebral lesions, recommended exploratory craniectomy for cranioencephalic injuries, recommended the removal of metal projectiles from the brain using a magnetic nail, and advocated for the prevention of infectious complications. Between the World Wars, de Martel undertook several developments for neurosurgery in France alongside neurologists Joseph Babinski and Clovis Vincent. Following France’s entry into World War II on September 3, 1939, de Martel took over as head of the services of the American Hospital of Paris in Neuilly. He updated his work on war surgery with the new cases he personally treated. Together with Vincent, de Martel presented his new approach in "Le traitement des blessures du crâne pendant les opérations militaires" ("The treatment of skull injuries during military operations") on January 30, 1940, and published his own surgical results in April 1940 in "Plan d’un travail sur le traitement des plaies cranio-cérébrales de guerre" ("Work Plan on the Treatment of Cranio-Cerebral Wounds of War"), intended for battlefield surgeons. On June 14, 1940, the day German troops entered Paris, de Martel injected himself with a lethal dose of phenobarbital. Thierry de Martel played a central role in establishing modern neurosurgery in France. His patriotism led him to improve the management of wartime cranioencephalic injuries using his own experience acquired during World Wars I and II.

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Danielle D. Dang, Jason H. Boulter, Melissa R. Meister, John V. Dang, Geoffrey Ling, and James Ecklund

The tenets of neurosurgery worldwide, whether in the civilian or military sector, espouse vigilance, the ability to adapt, extreme ownership, and, of course, an innate drive for developing a unique set of technical skills. At a time in history when the complexity of battlefield neurotrauma climaxed coupled with a chronic shortage of military neurosurgeons, modernized solutions were mandated in order to deliver world-class neurological care to our servicemen and servicewomen. Complex blast injuries, as caused by an increased incidence of improvised explosive devices, yielded widespread systemic inflammatory responses with multiorgan damage. In response to these challenges, the "NeuroTeam," originally a unit of two neurosurgeons as deployed during Operation Desert Storm, was redesigned to instead pair a neurosurgeon with a neurointensivist and launched itself during two specialized missions in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Representing a hybridized version of present-day neurocritical care teams, the purpose of this unit was to optimize neurosurgical care by focusing on interdisciplinary collaboration in an Echelon III combat support hospital. The NeuroTeam provided unique workflow capabilities never seen collectively on the battlefield: downrange neurosurgical capability by a board-certified neurological surgeon within 60 minutes from the point of injury paired with a neurocritical care–trained intensivist. This also set the stage for intraoperative telemedicine infrastructure for neurosurgery and optimized the ability to evaluate, triage, and stabilize patients prior to medical evacuation. This novel military partnership ultimately allowed the neurosurgeon to focus on the tenets of the craft and thereby the dynamic needs of the patient first and foremost.

Since the success of these missions, the NeuroTeam has evolved into a detachable unit, the "Head and Neck Team," comprising neurosurgeons, otolaryngologists, and ophthalmologists, supported by a postinjury hospital unit, which includes an embedded neurocritical care physician. The creation and evolution of the NeuroTeam, necessitated by a shortage of military neurosurgeons and the dangerous shift in military wartime tactics, best exemplifies multidisciplinary collaboration and military medicine agility. As neurocritical care continues to evolve into a highly complex, distinct specialty, the lessons learned by the NeuroTeam ultimately serve as a reminder for civilian and military physicians alike. Despite the conditions and despite one’s professional ego, patients with highly complex morbid neurological disease deserve expert, multidisciplinary management for survival.

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Jonathan E. Martin, Jordan Dean, Chris J. Neal, Benny Brandvold, Richard G. Ellenbogen, Ross R. Moquin, Geoffrey Ling, and James Ecklund

Operation Desert Storm (ODS) was an astounding success for combat arms and logistical units of the US Military. In contrast, Department of Defense (DOD) medical units struggled to keep pace with combat operations and were fortunate that casualty estimates for a Cold War–era battle failed to materialize. The medical support plan included a large contingent of active-duty and reserve neurosurgeons in anticipation of care requirements for more than 500,000 deploying service members engaged in a large-scale combat operation. Here, the authors review the clinical experience and operational challenges encountered by neurosurgeons deployed in support of this conflict and discuss legacies of ODS for both surgeons and the military medical system.

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Harald Stefanits, Martin Aichholzer, and Andreas Gruber

The main purpose of neurosurgery during World War II was the treatment of traumatic brain injury, injuries to the spine, and injuries to peripheral nerves—mostly penetrating injuries caused by bullets or shrapnel. After heavy bombings of Berlin, in 1943 the main neurosurgical hospital was moved to Bad Ischl, a small town in the Austrian countryside. There, Wilhelm Toennis and his successor Dietrich W. Krueger made important observations treating soldiers suffering from traumatic brain injuries. During the war and also in the postwar period, they focused on techniques for the reconstruction of the cranial vault, the treatment of brain abscesses by drainage instead of extirpation, and also the treatment of rhinoliquorrhea due to frontobasal trauma. Their approaches were sometimes contradictory to the standard of care of the times. Nevertheless, many of the principles of the techniques described are still practiced by today’s neurosurgeons.

Open access

Wasawat Muninthorn, Chai Kobkitsuksakul, and Atthaporn Boongird


Coil migration during endovascular treatment for an intracranial aneurysm is rare. When it occurs intraoperatively, it often mandates prompt endovascular retrieval or, as a salvage maneuver, microsurgical extraction if it fails endovascularly.


The authors presented a case of immediate coil migration during embolization of a giant intracranial cavernous segment of the internal carotid aneurysm. The patient immediately underwent emergency surgical extraction after unsuccessful endovascular retrieval attempts. The migrated coil was successfully removed through the M1 segment of the middle cerebral artery. The patient had full recovery without new neurological deficits. Four years after the incident, she was living independently. Previous case reports of emergency surgical removal of immediate coil migration were provided.


Surgical extraction of migrated coil after unfeasible endovascular retrieval served as an alternative salvage procedure. Hybrid neurological angiography in the operating suite may prevent unnecessary transfer and provide better real-time visualization of the migrated coil.