Recognizing Dandy’s Contributions on His Birthday

Dear Colleagues,

Professor Walter E. Dandy was born on April 6th, 1886, in the small town of Sedalia, Missouri, only two short hours from where I sit as I write this commentary. From humble beginnings, with immigrant parents, the young Walter completed both his high school (class valedictorian) and undergraduate education in the state of Missouri. He went on to attend the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he completed his residency training and his subsequent pioneering work in neurological surgery.

As we recognize his birthday, I would like to provide, based on my review of his work, a conceptual categorization of his lifetime contributions to our field:

Focus


 

Dandy chose to study and operate on the brain. This would have been considered highly super specialized for his time.

Mastery of Neuroanatomy


 

Dandy early on recognized that to be ‚Äčskilled as a surgeon operating on the brain, he must master the anatomy of the brain.

Drawing made by Dandy illustrating the blood supply of the pituitary gland. Of historical note, this was a project given to Dandy by Harvey Cushing.
Drawing made by Dandy illustrating the blood supply of the pituitary gland. Of historical note, this was a project given to Dandy by Harvey Cushing.

Research


 

Dandy believed and practiced the concept that to be a neurosurgeon, one must be a consummate researcher.

Creating internal hydrocephalus in dogs allowed Dandy, working alongside Kenneth Blackfan, to elucidate how CSF flowed.
Creating internal hydrocephalus in dogs allowed Dandy, working alongside Kenneth Blackfan, to elucidate how CSF flowed.

Clinical Expertise


 

Dandy believed in developing specialized teams to improve the patient’s outcomes. Based on my review, it appears he developed the first ICU in neurosurgery.

Dandy with members of his "Brain Team."
Dandy with members of his “Brain Team.”

Surgical Skill


 

Dandy believed to perform neurosurgery, one must continually improve his surgical abilities.

Drawing of trigonal AVM by Dandy reflecting his depth of lesion understanding and the surgical skill needed to approach such a lesion
Drawing of trigonal AVM by Dandy reflecting his depth of lesion understanding and the surgical skill needed to approach such a lesion

Dandy-Birthday-diagram-web

It is not a coincidence that the mission of the Dandy society (improving patient outcomes in neurological surgery) is in concordance with the vision for our field as seen by Professor Dandy. My proposed model for the training and practice of neurosurgery Fork in the Road Editorial incorporates Dandy’s vision for the future growth and development of this specialty.

It makes us very proud that by creating the Walter E. Dandy Neurosurgical Society, a whole new generation of neurosurgeons worldwide are coming to know him and appreciating his monumental contributions to our specialty. I was especially touched having observed a number of neurosurgeons and residents make presentations about the works and the contributions of Professor Walter E. Dandy at Dandy meetings worldwide over the last three years.

Abdulrauf_Office_of_Pres

Saleem I Abdulrauf, MD, FACS
President
Walter E. Dandy Neurosurgical Society‚Äč

References:

1. Dandy, W. (1987). The Brain. Birmingham, AL: The Classics of Neurology & Neurosurgery Library.

2. Marmaduke, M. (2002). Walter Dandy: The Personal Side of a Premier Neurosurgeon (I. Awad & E. Laws, Eds.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.