America’s First Brain Surgeon

First Brain Surgeon Quiz

In 1887, a Philadelphia native and Jefferson Medical College graduate performed the first successful brain tumor surgery – removing a meningioma from a 26-year-old man experiencing severe headaches, seizures, and aphasia – earning renown as “American’s first brain surgeon.”

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The correct answer is William W. Keen, MD.

WWKeen Postcard 584x342 1339517769615On December 15, 1887, Dr. Keen operated on Theodore Daveler, 26, to remove a brain meningioma. The patient was anesthetized with ether. His head was serialized using alcohol and carbolic acid and Dr. Keen removed the tumor by craniectomy. The patient survived the procedure and lived more than 30 years. Upon his death an autopsy showed no evidence of recurrent tumor.

Dr. Keen’s surgery was highlighted in a recent article in Neurosurgery, the journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. The article explored the distinguished history of the Department of Neurosurgery at Jefferson.

In the more than 130 years since Dr. Keen’s successful brain tumor surgery, Jefferson has remained a national leader in neurosurgery.

Today, Jefferson neurosurgeons specializing in neurovascular diseases, brain tumors and cancer, and spine surgery are among the most experienced and busiest in the nation. The Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience is the only dedicated hospital for neuroscience in the Delaware Valley.

This is where the most advanced treatment technologies, world-class specialists and innovative clinical research come together.

Neurosurgeons – in collaboration with neurologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists and psychiatrists – deliver leading edge care for a broad range of brain conditions and injuries, including the following state-of-the-art technologies:

  • Fractionated stereotactic radiosurgery (also known as stereotactic radiotherapy)
  • Minimally-invasive neurosurgery utilizing a robotically controlled microscope
  • NeuRx DPS™, an FDA-approved device that helps individuals with certain types of spinal cord injuries breathe on their own again

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Moreover, Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience launched Jefferson Expert Teleconsulting (JET) in connection with its Jefferson Neuroscience Network. The region’s first university-based high-tech mobile robotic teleconsulting system, JET allows Jefferson neuroscience specialists to evaluate time-sensitive neurovascular diseases, most notably stroke, in real time and without delay.

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