The 2016 scientific meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) focused on the theme “A World of Innovation.” In his presidential address, 2016 AANS President Frederick Boop compared the historical development of the specialty of neurological surgery with that of the development of global communications. In the early years, general surgeons training in the United States would spend post-residency time abroad learning from surgical masters in Europe and other places. Since Harvey Cushing’s day, neurosurgeons from around the world continue to travel abroad, with many now coming to America for training at centers of excellence.
Current clinical practice is defined by multi-national, multi-center clinical trials, and the AANS subsidiary NeuroPoint Alliance has positioned itself to serve as an international center for the oversight of such trials. The Neurosurgery Research & Education Foundation and the Journal of Neurosurgery Publishing Group have made it possible for a neurosurgeon anywhere with Internet access to learn relevant surgical anatomy, learn new neurosurgical procedures, and watch masters in the field perform operations via high-definition surgical videos at no cost via learning platforms such as the Rhoton Collection, the Neurosurgical Atlas, and Neurosurgical Focus video supplements. At the same time, patients are now traveling abroad to seek medical specialty care. Although the globalization of health care poses certain threats, it also presents neurosurgeons with a world of opportunities.