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Neurosurgery. 2009 May;64(5):1001-4; discussion 1004-5. doi: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000344003.72056.7F.

Theodor Kocher's craniometer.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


The first half of the 20th century witnessed the rapid emergence of neurological surgery as a surgical subspecialty. Only few surgeons made a name for themselves equally in general surgery and neurological surgery. One of them was the Swiss surgeon Theodor Kocher (1841-1917). He was honored with the Nobel Prize for his innovative approaches to pathology and surgery of the thyroid gland. Kocher also attracted students from all over the world to his laboratory to study the pathology of neurotrauma and the consequences of increased intracranial pressure on brain function. One of his most interesting contributions to the neurosurgical equipment of his time is a craniometer, used to correlate the location of intracranial pathology to landmarks on the surface of the cranium. Craniometers can be seen as simple forerunners of today's sophisticated stereotactic frames. They contributed significantly to the advancement of neurological surgery, allowing localization of known functional centers as well as lesions of the brain in a 3-dimensional system.

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