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May 2009 Issue

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Neurosurgery History Exhibit Opens in Winkler Center

By Cindy Starr & Jill Hafner
Published May 2009

A bronze bust of the late Frank Mayfield, MD, pioneering technologies developed by Cincinnati brain surgeons and the story of UC’s trailblazing path in neurosurgery highlight a new exhibit at the Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions.


“History of Neurosurgery in Cincinnati” is on display through June 1 and is free and open to the public. The Winkler Center is housed in the Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library, 231 Albert Sabin Way.


The exhibit examines Cincin-nati’s rich history of neurosurgical innovation and progress, beginning with the first electrical stimulation of the human brain, by Roberts Bartholow, MD, in 1874, and the arrival of George Heuer, MD, from Johns Hopkins University in 1921.


Heuer and his equally famous contemporary, Walter Dandy, MD, both trained at Johns Hopkins during the era of Harvey Cushing, MD, the “father of neurosurgery.”


Giants in their field, Cushing left Johns Hopkins for Harvard University, Dandy remained at Johns Hopkins and Heuer came to UC as the first Christian R. Holmes Professor of Surgery. Under Heuer’s leadership, UC became the third university, behind Harvard and Johns Hopkins, to embrace a modern method of surgical residency education developed by William Halsted, MD.


When UC created a new subspecialty section of neurosurgery in 1937, it attracted two stellar chair candidates. The position went to Joseph Evans, MD, who served as chair until 1954.


Evans and his team were pioneers in the recording of intracranial pressure and are credited with one of the earliest uses of computers in medicine.

Evans’ runner-up, Frank May-field, MD, remained in Cincinnati and created a legacy that includes  the 72-year-old Mayfield Clinic, which is today one of the largest neurosurgical practices in the United States.


The portrait bust of Mayfield is the visual highlight of the exhibit. The display also highlights neurosurgical instrumentation and technologies of historical significance, including the:


•     Mayfield aneurysm clip and clip applier; developed in 1952 by Mayfield and medical 
      illustrator George Kees, these tools revolutionized the treatment of brain aneurysms.

•     Mayfield headrest and skull clamp; developed in 1967 by Mayfield and Kees, they 
      are the most widely used neurosurgical headrests today.

•     Tew curved electrode kit; developed in 1974 by John Tew, MD, clinical director of the 
      UC Neuroscience Institute, and Eric Cosman, it is widely used for percutaneous 
      radiofrequency treatment of trigeminal neuralgia.

•     Budde Halo self-retaining retractor; developed in 1981 by Richard Budde, MD, and 
      Kees, it allows surgeons to retract the brain and rest their hands comfortably during 


The exhibit is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Because meetings are occasionally held at the center, visitors are advised to call (513) 558-5120 prior to their visit to ensure that the center is not occupied. For more information, visit 

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