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Charles J. Prestigiacomo

As the Journal of Neurosurgery (JNS) enters its 76th year of publication, its role as a principal repository of the neurosurgical body of knowledge continues to rise. Following in the steps of earlier journals in other disciplines, the JNS was founded to help provide experts in the field of neurological surgery a forum to present and interpret the important data that have shaped the way the field is practiced around the world. Though not exclusive in its mission, the “White Journal” innovated the management as well as the delivery of information and has served as an example for neurosurgical journals born thereafter.

As with all events, the foundational elements of the JNS are centered on the needs of the times. An understanding of the precipitating events and the individuals instrumental in its genesis and subsequent maturation brings to light the JNS’s main focus: to be the principal journal for the field.

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Charles J. Prestigiacomo

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Gaurav Gupta and Charles J. Prestigiacomo


Writers of neurosurgical history have traditionally maintained that the initial use of cranial bone wax for hemostasis in humans was developed and promoted by Sir Victor Horsley, the father of British neurosurgery. A thorough literature review, however, suggests that the use of bone wax for cranial bone hemostasis had its roots more than 50 years before Dr. Horsley's description in 1892. In this study the authors review the sources addressing this issue and establish due credit to the surgeons using bone wax for cranial bone hemostasis before Horsley.


Primary and secondary general surgery and neurosurgery literature from 1850 to the present was comprehensively reviewed. The key words used in the literature searchers were “bone wax,” “sealing wax,” “cranial surgery,” “Victor Horsley,” “hemostasis,” and “bone hemostasis.”


Although Dr. Horsley's description in 1892 clearly delineates the necessary formula for creating a soft, malleable, nonbrittle wax that would easily promote hemostasis, the literature suggests that sealing wax was commonly used as early as 1850 for hemostasis in cranial bones. Even though there is documentation that Magendie (1783–1855) used wax to occlude venous sinuses in animals, detailed documentation of the constituents are not available. Evidence reveals that surgeons like Henri Ferdinand Dolbeau (1840–1877), professor of external pathology and the surgical clinic (1868–1872) at the Paris hospitals, used bone wax in 1864 for the extirpation of a frontal osteoma/exostoses of the frontal sinus.


The use of bone wax in cranial surgery was described by Henri Ferdinand Dolbeau, 50 years prior to Sir Victor Horsley's report in 1892. Nonetheless, it was Horsley who advocated and popularized its use in neurological surgery as an additional tool in the hemostatic and surgical armamentarium.

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Michael A. Chorney, Chirag D. Gandhi, and Charles J. Prestigiacomo

Craniotomies are among the oldest neurosurgical procedures, as evidenced by early human skulls discovered with holes in the calvaria. Though devices change, the principles to safely transgress the skull are identical. Modern neurosurgeons regularly use electric power drills in the operating theater; however, nonelectric trephining instruments remain trusted by professionals in certain emergent settings in the rare instance that an electric drill is unavailable. Until the late Middle Ages, innovation in craniotomy instrumentation remained stunted without much documented redesign. Jacopo Berengario da Carpi's (c. 1457–1530 CE) text Tractatus de Fractura Calvae sive Cranei depicts a drill previously unseen in a medical volume. Written in 1518 CE, the book was motivated by defeat over the course of Lorenzo II de'Medici's medical care. Berengario's interchangeable bit with a compound brace (“vertibulum”), known today as the Hudson brace, symbolizes a pivotal device in neurosurgery and medical tool design. This drill permitted surgeons to stock multiple bits, perform the craniotomy faster, and decrease equipment costs during a period of increased incidence of cranial fractures, and thus the need for craniotomies, which was attributable to the introduction of gunpowder. The inspiration stemmed from a school of thought growing within a population of physicians trained as mathematicians, engineers, and astrologers prior to entering the medical profession. Berengario may have been the first to record the use of such a unique drill, but whether he invented this instrument or merely adapted its use for the craniotomy remains clouded.

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Brittany Staarmann, Matthew Smith, and Charles J. Prestigiacomo

Wall shear stress, the frictional force of blood flow tangential to an artery lumen, has been demonstrated in multiple studies to influence aneurysm formation and risk of rupture. In this article, the authors review the ways in which shear stress may influence aneurysm growth and rupture through changes in the vessel wall endothelial cells, smooth-muscle cells, and surrounding adventitia, and they discuss shear stress–induced pathways through which these changes occur.

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Charles J. Prestigiacomo and T. Forcht Dagi

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Chirag D. Gandhi, Lana D. Christiano, and Charles J. Prestigiacomo

The management of stroke has progressed significantly over the past 2 decades due to successful treatment protocols including intravenous and intraarterial options. The intravenous administration of tissue plasminogen activator within an established treatment window has been proven in large, well-designed studies. The evolution of endovascular strategies for acute stroke has been prompted by the limits of the intravenous treatment, as well as by the desire to demonstrate improved recanalization rates and improved long-term outcomes. The interventional treatment options available today are the intraarterial administration of tissue plasminogen activator and newer antiplatelet agents, mechanical thrombectomy with the MERCI device and the Penumbra system, and intracranial angioplasty and stent placement. In this review the authors outline the major studies that have defined the current field of acute stroke management and discuss the basic treatment paradigms that are commonly used today.