Modern psychosurgery before Egas Moniz: a tribute to Gottlieb Burckhardt.Neurosurg Focus 2008; 25(1):E9NF
The history of modern psychosurgery has been written in several ways, weaving around many pioneers in the field during the 19th century. Often neglected in this history is Gottlieb Burckhardt (1836-1907), who performed the first psychosurgical procedures as early as 1888, several decades before the work of Egas Moniz (1874-1955). The unconventional and original case series of Burckhardt, who claimed success in 50% of patients (3 of 6), had met with overt criticism from his contemporary medical colleagues. The authors describe 2 illustrative cases of cortical extirpation performed by Burckhardt and review his pioneering case series for surgical outcome, despite the ambiguity in postoperative evaluation criteria. Although Burckhardt discontinued the project after publication of his surgical results in 1891, neurosurgeons around the world continued to investigate psychosurgery and revitalized his ideas in 1910; psychosurgery subsequently developed into a full-fledged neurosurgical specialty.