Harvey Cushing and early spinal dysraphism repair at Johns Hopkins Hospital: Historical vignette

Courtney Pendleton, Edward S. Ahn, George I. Jallo, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


As neurological surgery began developing into a surgical subspecialty in the US at the turn of the 20th century, with Harvey Cushing at the forefront, the operative treatment of spinal dysraphism was refined with attempts to minimize complications. Following institutional approval, and through the courtesy of the Alan Mason Chesney Archives, the authors reviewed the Johns Hopkins Hospital surgical files from 1896 to 1912. Patients presenting with spinal dysraphism who underwent surgical intervention by Dr. Harvey Cushing were selected for further analysis. Ten patients presented for surgical intervention for spinal dysraphism, and 7 of these had concurrent hydrocephalus. The mean age of these patients was 5.8 months (range 1-14 months). The mean length of stay was 20.4 days. There were 6 inpatient deaths. At the time of last follow-up, 2 patients were well, 1 patient remained unimproved, and 1 patient (for whom no discharge outcome was available) had died. The cases described in detail offer insight into the breadth of Cushing's practice and the varied approaches he employed. The use of Faradic stimulation to assess nerve root function, the use of complex multilayered closures, and the creation of operative tables for combined treatment of hydrocephalus and spinal dysraphism illustrate Cushing's contributions to developing the field of pediatric neurosurgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-51
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Harvey Cushing
  • Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Spinal dysraphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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