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Neurosurgery refers to surgery involving the brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves. This entry first reviews the foundational research and advancements that have informed present-day neurosurgery. Next, the entry addresses several medical and mental health conditions for which neurosurgery as treatment may be warranted.

Foundational Research

In the 19th century, the first systematic studies on the impact of surgery on the spinal cords of animals were completed by a Scottish physician, Charles Bell, and a French physician, Francois Magendie. Bell’s investigation was completed approximately 10 years prior to Magendie’s; however, Bell had identified only the ventral (interior/inferior) spinal roots as supporting the motor functions. Magendie confirmed Bell’s findings, but he also went on to detail the role of the dorsal (back portion) roots. Both Bell’s ...

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