Neurosurgery before Science: Taking a Chance
It has become increasingly clear that it is easy to misunderstand how surgery functioned in the past. It is all too easy to regard our ancestors as less privileged than ourselves, whereas they were probably every bit as intelligent, but with a different set of priorities. This book traces the development of the profession of surgery and the preoccupations and concerns of its practitioners, from Hippocrates to the early nineteenth century. Topics discussed here include the personal characteristics of surgeons and the regulation of the practice of surgery. The study of anatomy and its limitation by political and philosophical taboos is also considered, while common procedures without merit such as bloodletting or trepanning are analysed. The illogical myth of laudable pus is examined in some detail, as are the modern conceptions of surgical infection in times past. The book’s main concern is to demonstrate the profession’s resistance to new ideas, preferring the comfort of accepted notions even if the evidence confounds them.
Jeremy C. Ganz is a Cambridge graduate and qualified as a neurosurgeon trained in the UK. He was awarded a consultant post at Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway, in 1979. During his time in this post, he acquired a PhD in Experimental Physiology concerning the mechanisms underlying the formation of epidural hematomas, which are clinically confusing. These studies later formed the basis for a book on the topic. In 1988, a new technique called radiosurgery was introduced to the hospital and Dr Ganz was responsible for this activity. In 1993, he resigned his post in Norway to start a career teaching radiosurgery round the world, before returning to routine neurosurgery and radiosurgery in Norway, and retiring in 2010. Since that time, he has engaged in the study of the history of neurosurgery with the publication of several papers on the topic.
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