Henry Ford Hospital Medical Journal


D. J. Canale


The significant amount of spinal surgery in neurological practice today prompts a survey of the historical development of surgical treatment of disorders of the spine. Any discussion tracing the events leading to modern surgical practice must necessarily contain the contributions of men of medicine through the centuries; therefore, neurosurgery as practiced today is greatly indebted to the efforts of courageous and dedicated men in world history extending to the early Egyptians. Overcoming seemingly insurmountable barriers of prejudice bred of ignorance, societal customs, and religious tradition, these fathers of medicine have contributed the knowledge and experimental evidence which form the cornerstone of modern medical practice. From the papyrus records of a surgeon of 2500 B.C. to Lister's paper on asepsis and Morton's use of anesthesia, the advance of surgery as an integral part of medical practice may be observed through the detailed records describing diagnostic procedures and treatment methods. Also viewed are surgical techniques employing remedies and instruments which bear little resemblance to those in use today. Historical precedent is a well-known motivator, prompting understanding and inspiring progress. Building on these milestones of the past, modern men of medicine may further advance the practice of spinal surgery.