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J Neurosurg. 2014 Dec;121(6):1297-313. doi: 10.3171/2014.8.JNS141791.

Expanding neurosurgery.

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Department of Neurosurgery, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.


The history of medicine is replete with innovations in neurosurgery that have spurred further developments across the medical spectrum. Surgeons treating pathologies in the head and spine have broken ground with new approaches, techniques, and technologies since ancient times. Neurosurgeons occupy a vital nexus in patient care, interfacing with the clinical symptoms and signs afflicting patients, the pathology at surgery, and imaging studies. No other physicians occupy this role within the nervous system. This power of observation and the ability to intercede place neurosurgeons in a unique position for impacting disease. Yet despite these pioneering achievements, more recently, forces in the workplace may be challenging neurosurgery's opportunities to contribute to the future growth of the neurosciences and medicine. The authors posit that, in the current health care climate, revenue generation by neurosurgical clinical activity is valued by the system more than neurosurgical research and academic output. Without providing the talented stream of new neurosurgeons with the opportunities and, in fact, the directive to achieve beyond simple financial success, the specialty is missing the opportunity to optimize its progress. The authors contend that the key to remaining relevant with the incorporation of new technologies to the treatment of neurosurgical patients will be to be flexible, open-minded, and nimble with the adaptation of new procedures by training and encouraging neurosurgical residents to pursue new or neglected areas of the specialty. Only by doing so can neurosurgery continue to expand.


AANS 2014 presidential address; expanding neurosurgery; history of medicine; surgical innovation

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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