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TitleSpina bifida: an unfinished story
AuthorsSimpson DA
TypeJournal Article
AbstractThe Neurosurgical Society of Australasia has had an important role in promoting growth in the neurosurgical subspecialties, and in restraining them from overgrowth. This has been evident in the story of the management of spina bifida, or myelodysplasia, in Australasia over the last 40 years. It is a story that deserves to be told for its histor- ical interest, and because it has left a legacy of challenges for the neurosurgeons of the present and the future. When the Society met in Canberra in 1956 (Fig. 1), there can have been few to foresee the development of paediatric neurosurgery as a separate discipline. But there were present at that meeting three men who were already engaged in establishing special services for children with paediatric neurosurgical problems. Marcel Sofer Schreiber had begun to do this in the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Sick Children in Sydney, building on founda- tions laid by Tom Nelson, a general paediatric surgeon who had been an Associate Member of our Society. Trevor Dinning had recently established a modern neurosurgical service for adults in the Royal Adelaide Hospital, and was doing the same for children in what was then the Adelaide Children's Hospital. In the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Reg Hooper, already an acknowledged leader in Australasian neurosurgery, was beginning his long interest in paediatric problems. At that time, the paediatric conditions that were thought to need neurosurgery were not numerous. Tumours of the brain were seen as the neurosurgeon's chief obligation, and perhaps also head injuries. Hydrocephalus was receiving attention, and by 1956 both Sorer Schreiber and Dinning were attempting to treat hydrocephalus with spinal and ventricular shunts that were occasionally effective, although as ureteric drainage was then favoured, the dangers were very great. But cases of severe spina bifida were not at this time seen as a neurosurgical responsibility.
Journal TitleJournal of clinical neuroscience
Journal Volume (Issue)5(3)
Page Range251-256
Page Count6
NotesAvailable from CASR library on request

Simpson DA (1998). Spina bifida: an unfinished story. Journal of clinical neuroscience, 5(3), 251-256.