History of Neurosurgery with Movement Disorders

Biography Section with Pictorial archive of Pioneer Neurosurgeons

Henry T. Wycis

(1911-1972)

Significant contributions and collaborators:

Introduced the field of human stereotactic surgery with first human stereotactic frame in collaboration with Ernest A. Spiegel.

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Born in Bayonne, New Jersey, in 1911, Wycis first attended Grace City College in Pennsylvania. He reportedly worked his way through medical school playing semiprofessional baseball and gambling, and graduated as valedictorian from Temple Medical School in 1938, after which he entered the neurosurgery residency program at Temple and eventually became a faculty member there.

During his time in medical school, he worked in the lab of Ernest A. Spiegel, where the pair devised a brain atlas that would become the basis for their 'stereoencephalon'. Ultimately, the stereoencephalon would be used during the first human stereotactic procedure in 1947 on a patient with Huntington's chorea. The surgery was determined to be a success and demonstrated that stereotactic surgery was possible and that specific lesions could be made to improve motor function while preserving surrounding function.

The stereotactic frame they developed was a modification of the Horsley-Clarke animal apparatus that was created 40 years before. Based upon 30 brains fixed in situ, it relied on internal cerebral landmarks instead of external landmarks as with the Horsley-Clarke apparatus, which made it accurate enough to be used in humans. The advent of intraoperative x-ray technique allowed for the use of internal landmarks specific to each patient. Originally designed to improve psychosurgery, it was also used in mesencephalotomies for treatment of pain, pallidotomies and ansotomies for movement disorders, and epilepsy. A proliferative pair, they also studied stereotactic surgery for additional applications including pain or phantom limb; pallidal lesions in involuntary movements; electrocoagulation of the Gasserian ganglion in trigeminal neuralgia; and withdrawal of fluid from pathological cavities, and cystic tumors. They continued to work to define the optimal target for tremor and ultimately published over 200 papers and one book.

Speigel and Wycis recognized the need for international collaboration, and organized the first stereotactic meeting in 1958. They later founded what is now the World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (WSSFN).

Although he was devoted to the practice of neurosurgery and research in stereoencephalotomy, his interests ranged from philately to world travel. Each July he would fly north to the Grenfeld Mission Hospitals in Newfoundland where he worked in the clinics and operating rooms. He also found time for his favorite sport of salmon fishing and was a member of the Atlantic Salmon Association. Wycis left Temple to operate at St. Joseph's hospital in 1970 where he worked until his death in 1972.

Sources:

  • Meagher, RJ: The History of Neurosurgery at Temple University. Neurosurg 2004; 55(3): 688-697.
  • Gildenberg, PL: The Birth of Stereotactic Surgery: A Personal Retrospective. Neuosurg 2004; 54(1): 199-208.
  • Gildenberg, PL: Spiegel and Wycis -- The Early Years. Stereotact Funct Neurosurg 2001;77:11-16.
  • Nashold, BS: Obituary of Henry Wycis

Selected Movement Disorder Related Publications:
Top 20 first and last authored citations (from ISI Web of Knowledge)

  1. Yoshikazu, W. and Henry T. Wycis (1973). "A New Therapeutic Approach to Parkinson's Disease: Clinical Evaluation of EQ-10-029." The Japan Neurological Society 13(188).
  2. Wycis, H. T. (1972). "Role of a Dihydromorphanthridine Derivative in Parkinson's Patients Treated with L-Dopa - Preliminary Report." Confinia Neurologica 34(1): 130.
  3. Gildenberg, P. L. and Henry T. Wycis (1971). "Trauma to the central nervous system." Prog Neurol Psychiatry 26(1): 395-406.
  4. Wycis, H. T., William Cunningham, Garry Kellett and Ernest A. Spiegel (1970). "L-Dopa in the Treatment of Post-Surgical Parkinson Patients." Journal of Neurosurgery 32(3): 281-5.
  5. Spiegel, E. A. and Henry T. Wycis (1970). "Advances in Stereo Encephalotomy Vol 5 Extraphyramidal Sensory Convulsive and Behavioral Disorders Recent Techniques." Advances in Stereoencephalotomy: 1-360.
  6. Spiegel, E. A. and Henry T. Wycis (1966). "Present Status of Stereoencephalotomies for Pain Relief." Confinia Neurologica 27(1-3): 7.
  7. Spiegel, E. A., Henry T. Wycis, E. G. Szekely, J. Adams, M. Flanagan and H. W. Baird, III (1963). "Campotomy in Various Extrapyramidal Disorders." Journal of Neurosurgery 20(10): 871-74.
  8. Wycis, H. T. and E. A. Spiegel (1962). "Long-Range Results in the Treatment of Intractable Pain by Stereotaxic Midbrain Surgery." Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics 19(2): 101-7.
  9. Spiegel, E. A. and Henry T. Wycis (1959). "Construction of Orthoradiographic Projections from a Standard Radiograph for Stereotaxic Measurements." British Journal of Radiology 32(1): 272-274.
  10. Scott, M., Henry T. Wycis, Frederick Murtagh and Victor Reyes (1955). "Observations on Ventricular and Lumbar Subarachnoid Peritoneal Shunts in Hydrocephalus in Infants." Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics 12(2): 165-175.
  11. Wycis, H. T. and Ernest A. Spiegel (1953). "Effect of Cortical Lesions and Elimination of Retinal Impulses on Labyrinthine Nystagmus." Archives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery 57(1): 1-11.
  12. Speigel, E. A., Henry T. Wycis and Herbert Freed (1952). "Stereoencephalotomy: Thalamotomy and Related Procedures." The Journal of the American Medical Association 148(6): 446-451.
  13. Reyes, V., G. C. Henry, Henry T. Wycis and E. A. Spiegel (1951). "Localization of centripetal pathways of the human brain by recording of evoked potentials." Trans Am Neurol Assoc 56(1): 246-8.
  14. Lewis, J. R., Henry T. Wycis and Barton R. Young (1950). "Roentgen Diagnosis of Herniation of the Brain into the Spinal Canal (Arnold-Chiari Deformity) by Pantopaque Myelography, Report of a Case Diagnosed Preoperatively." Radiology 54(4): 591-94.
  15. Scott, M. and Henry T. Wycis (1949). "Survey of the value of neurosurgical treatment for the relief of intractable pain." The American Journal of Surgery 77(6): 718-736.
  16. Scott, M. and Henry T. Wycis (1949). "Intracranial Neurinoma of the Hypoglossal Nerve Successful Removal, Case Report." Journal of Neurosurgery 6(4): 333-6.
  17. Wycis, H. T. (1948). "Oligodendroglioma of the Cerebellum." Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry 59(3): 404-407.
  18. Scott, M. and Henry T. Wycis (1946). "Experimental Observations on the Use of Stainless Steel for Cranioplasty A Comparison with Tantalum." Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics 3(4): 310-317.
  19. Wycis, H. T. (1945). "Subdural Hygroma, A Report of Seven Cases." Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics 2(4).
  20. Wycis, H. T. (1944). "Basilar Impression (Platybasia) A Case Secondary to Advanced Paget's Disease with Severe Neurological Manifestations. Successful Surgical Result." Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics 1(5): 299-305.

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