The BBC has produced an interesting series called Blood and Guts about the modern history of surgery and the first episode, which is about neurosurgery, is now available online at the BBC iPlayer website. (For those outside the U.K., it is also available as a torrent.)
Presented by surgeon Michael Mosley, the program begins with the pioneering work of Harvey Cushing, then continues with a discussion of Phineas Gage, the Yale physiologist Jose Delgado and the lobotomist Walter Freeman. Mosley also meets Howard Dully, who was lobotomized at the age of 12 by Freeman.
In one particularly interesting part of the program, Mosley accompanies Dully to Stanford University, and watches as he undergoes an fMRI scan (he is the first lobotomized patient to have a brain scan).
Towards the end, Mosley takes a look at recently developed techniques. He goes to UCL to volunteer as a subject in an experiment in which transcranial magnetic stimulation is used to disrupt motor function, and then meets a Parkinson’s patient who has been treated with deep brain stimulation.
Conspicuous by his absence is Wilder Penfield, another outstanding neurosurgeon who in the 1930s developed a ground-breaking technique called the Montreal procedure, in which abnormal brain tissue is identified by electrical stimulation of the brain of conscious patients.
(I’m working on a piece about Penfield, so you can find out all about him later this week.)
(Thanks to Ross and Vaughan)