In the 15th century, brain illustration began to change from a schematic system that involved scant objective rendering of the brain, to accurate depictions based on anatomical dissections that demanded significant artistic talent. Notable examples of this innovation are the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci (1498–1504), Andreas Vesalius' association with the bottega of Titian to produce the drawings of Vesalius' De humani corporis fabrica (1543), and Christopher Wren's illustrations for Thomas Willis' Cerebri Anatome (1664). These works appeared during the Renaissance and Age of Enlightenment, when advances in brain imaging, or really brain rendering, reflected not only the abilities and dedications of the artists, but also the influences of important cultural and scientific factors. Anatomy and human dissection became popular social phenomena as well as scholarly pursuits, linked with the world of the fine arts. The working philosophy of these artists involved active participation in both anatomical study and illustration, and the belief that their discoveries of the natural world could best be communicated by rendering them in objective form (that is, with realistic perspective). From their studies emerged the beginning of contemporary brain imaging. In this article, the authors examine how the brain began to be imaged in realism within a cultural and scientific milieu that witnessed the emergence of anatomical dissection, the geometry of linear perspective, and the closer confluence of art and science.
Daniel D. Cavalcanti, William Feindel, James T. Goodrich, T. Forcht Dagi, Charles J. Prestigiacomo, and Mark C. Preul
Mark C. Preul and William Feindel
✓ Wilder Penfield and Harvey Cushing created legacies to neurosurgery, both in terms of those they trained and in their philosophical approach to the field. Their biographies provide only brief comments on their relationship without any thorough examination of their personal correspondence. In this article the Penfield—Cushing relationship is examined through an analysis of their unpublished personal letters. The Penfield—Cushing correspondence is a treasure for neurosurgery; it provides remarkable insight into the embryonic period of the discipline and into the relationship of two of the most influential figures in modern neurosurgery.
Mark C. Preul, William Feindel, T. Forcht Dagi, Joseph Stratford, and Gilles Bertrand
✓ The contributions of Arthur Elvidge (1899–1985), Wilder Penfield's first neurosurgical recruit, to the development of neurosurgery have been relatively neglected, although his work in brain tumors extended the previous work of Percival Bailey and Harvey Cushing. He published rigorous correlations of clinical and histological information and formulated a revised, modern nosology for neuroepithelial tumors, including a modern histological definition of glioblastoma multiforme. Well ahead of his time, he believed that glioblastoma was not strictly localized and was the first to comment that the tumor frequently showed “satellitosis.” He was the first neurosurgeon in North America to use angiography as a radiographic aid in the diagnosis of cerebrovascular disease. Having studied with Egas Moniz, he was the first to detail the use of angiographic examinations specifically for demonstrating cerebrovascular disorders, believing that it would make possible routine surgery of the intracranial blood vessels. Seeking to visualize all phases of angiography, he was the impetus behind the design of one of the first semi-automatic film changers. Elvidge and Egas Moniz made the first observations on thrombosis of the carotid vessels independently of each other. Elvidge elucidated the significance of embolic stroke and commented on the ischemic sequelae of subarachnoid hemorrhage. Besides his contributions to neurosurgery, he codiscovered the mode of transmission of poliomyelitis. Elvidge's soft-spoken manner, his dry wit and candor, mastery of the understatement, love of exotic travel, and consummate dedication to neurosurgery made him a favorite of patients, neurosurgery residents, nurses, and other hospital staff. His accomplishments and example as teacher and physician have become part of neurosurgery's growing legacy.
Mark C. Preul, Joseph Stratford, Gilles Bertrand, and William Feindel
✓ Neurosurgeons are well known for being productive researchers and innovators. Few, however, have possessed the prolific ingenuity of William Cone. In 1934, he and Wilder Penfield were cofounders of the Montreal Neurological Institute where, until 1959, he filled the twin roles of neurosurgeon-in-chief and neuropathologist.
Because he did not find writing easy, many of his technical inventions and refinements remained unpublished. His numerous innovations included the extensive use of twist-drill technique for biopsy, drainage for subdural hematoma and cerebral abscess, and ventriculography. In the mid-1940's, he developed power tools driven by nitrogen that led to the modern, universally used air-driven tool systems. He had a special interest in the treatment of spinal dysfunction, for which he invented the Cone-Barton skull-traction tongs along with the Cone spinal operating table. He also devised operative procedures for vertebral fracture-dislocation and craniospinal anomalies. For the maintenance of muscle tone in the paralyzed bladder, he constructed a tidal drainage system. He introduced and popularized ventriculoperitoneal shunting techniques and carried out some of the earliest experimental trials to treat brain infections with sulphonamide and antibiotic drugs. He designed his own set of surgical suction devices, bone rongeurs, and a personal suction “air-conditioning” system for each surgeon. He had a keen early interest in intracranial tumors, and also demonstrated on monkeys how subdural mass lesions caused pupillary dilation and mesial temporal lobe damage due to cerebral compression. His work for the military during World War II on effects of altitude on brain pressure remained classified for many years. The first clipping and excision of an intracranial aneurysm is attributed to Cone.
Although Penfield was known as “the Chief,” Cone was referred to as “the Boss.” His fervent dedication to provide total care to his patients was expressed in round-the-clock vigils; he did not separate “nursing” from “surgical” care. Ultimately, Cone's driving passion for perfection led in part to his tragic death. His accomplishments, inventions, and his example as teacher and physician have become part of neurosurgery's collective legacy.
The role of the “Cushing ritual” and influences from the European experience
Mark C. Preul and William Feindel
✓ Wilder Penfield left two great legacies: the development of successful surgical treatment of epilepsy and the establishment with his colleagues of the Montreal Neurological Institute as a world-renowned medical center, “dedicated to relief of pain and suffering and to the study of neurology.” That Harvey Cushing's surgical ritual (which stemmed from the painstaking operative methods of Halsted) played a paramount role in the origins of Penfield's surgical technique is revealed by a set of notes and drawings by Penfield during repeated visits in the 1920's to Cushing's clinic at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.
Penfield's intellectual approach to the nervous system was derived from his studies with Sherrington, Holmes, Cajal, and Hortega. His eclectic surgical style emerged from his familiarity with the operating techniques of Halsted, Dandy, Horsley, Sargent, Cushing, Frazier, Whipple, Leriche, and Foerster. Penfield's debt to these teachers is documented in his memoirs and in an unpublished report on European neurosurgery which he sent to the Rockefeller Foundation in 1928.