Some physicians mark their success in diseases cured or steps taken after injury. M. Gazi Yasargil, M.D., known as the father of modern neurosurgery, measures his impact in patients who practice law, speak seven languages and teach mathematics, all after brain surgery.
Yasargil visited Saint Louis University on Friday, Aug. 19 to speak to neurosurgery residents and medical students. While on campus, Saleem Abdulrauf, M.D., chair of neurosurgery at SLU, presented Yasargil with a plaque, naming him "Special Honorary Visiting Professor."
A self-described, "person from the last century," Yasargil says incredible things happened over the last 100 years or so, noting contributions from Einstein to Hubble he describes as fantastic. And yet, he says, in spite of the rows of books on the brain you'll find at any bookstore, we still don't understand consciousness.
"The brain actually is not like a single organ. It's like a country," Yasargil said. "There are many organs. And each one a city, like St. Louis. There's a vascular organ. An endocrine organ. An immunological organ. All in the brain."
A pioneer in his field, Yasargil:
• Introduced and developed the use of the operating microscope for neurosurgery.
• Was the first to perform microsurgical procedures on the brain.
• Introduced the field of stereotactic neurosurgery for movement disorders.
• Introduced the concept of microsurgical resection of brain tumors and described the associated brain anatomy that remains the principle by which brain tumor surgery is performed today.
• Developed the Yasargil vascular clips used to treat brain aneurysms, which are the mainstay of brain aneurysm treatment today.
• Performed the first extra-cranial to intra-cranial bypass procedure to the brain in 1967, which led to the evolution of bypass surgery as a new field within neurosurgery.
• Wrote the six-volume publication, "Microneurosurgery," which is considered an essential work for any neurosurgeon worldwide.
Yasargil also has received numerous awards. He was honored in 1999 as "Neurosurgery's Man of the Century 1950-1999"and the entire issue of the medical journal "Neurosurgery" was dedicated to covering his contributions to the field.
In hosting world-class speakers like Yasargil, Saint Louis University is at the forefront of neurosurgery education. SLU faculty members hold leadership positions with the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, the North American Skull Base Society and World Federation of Skull Base Societies and have worked to advance the field, inventing new neurosurgical procedures, authoring textbooks and developing neurosurgical equipment.
Each year, Saint Louis University hosts neurosurgeons from around the world who visit the University's Practical Anatomy and Surgical Education Center, the largest, most equipped hands on training laboratory in the world for neurosurgical education, to advance their training. SLU faculty are invited to teach at institutions around the world, and SLU's Center for Cerebrovascular and Skull Base Surgery, brings together specialists from neurosurgery, neurology, head and neck surgery and radiology to treat patients from around the world who have complicated brain tumors and aneurysms.