Walter  E.  Dandy, MD
(Honorary, Posthumous)

1886-1946


WALTER E. DANDY was born in 1886. After his graduation from the University of Missouri in 1907, he declined a Rhodes Scholarship, to enter the Johns Hopkins Medical School as an advanced student. He was to remain there following graduation, until his death only days after his 60th birthday. His outstanding performance in medical school led to a surgical appointment by Halstead. The first year was spent in the Hunterian Laboratory, where he began his association with Harvey Cushing. This association ended in 1912, when Cushing left Baltimore to accept the Chair of Surgery at the Harvard Medical School.

In collaboration with K.D. Blackfan of the Pediatric Department, he did research on hydrocephalic dogs. Their findings led to several classic publications on cerebrospinal fluid physiology and hydrocephalus. The first of these appeared in 1913. In 1918, while still a resident surgeon, he introduced ventriculography, and, in 1919, pneumoen-cephalography. Perhaps his greatest contributions to medicine, these diagnostic procedures helped to establish neurological surgery as a viable specialty by making possible the preoperative localization of intracranial masses.

He first accomplished total excision of an acoustic neurinoma in 1917. After a preliminary report, he published his results for 17 patients with total removal, advocating this as the procedure of choice for these tumors (1925). In 1928, he described eighth nerve section for Meniere’s disease and, in 1937, he was the first to cure an intracranial carotid aneurysm by clipping the neck.

His bold, successful pioneering in many diverse areas of neurological surgery, is documented in his classic and prolific writings. Well-known examples include monographs dealing with tumors in the third ventricle (1933), tumors of the lateral ventricle (1934), orbital tumors (1941), and intracranial aneurysms (1944). His Surgery of the Brain, first published in Lewis’ Practice of Surgery, appeared as a separate work in 1945. Other papers deal with the treatment of pineal tumor, pneumocephalus, brain abscess, and ruptured invertebral disc.

Dr. Dandy was a superb and dexterous technician, who could be aggressive, radical, and innovative when there was any hope of effecting a cure for his patient. He maintained a heavy operative schedule six days a week. Each day’s schedule consisted of five or six major operations, including one or two craniotomies for tumor. He maintained an effective, albeit rather primitive by modern standards, intensive care recovery room on the neurosurgical award. This was unquestionably a major factor in his low operative mortality rate.

Walter Dandy’s many contributions have earned him a prominent place in the annals of neurological surgery. His generosity and kindness to numerous students, residents, and patients in need of financial aid will be long-remembered. His great accomplishments and superb skill will inspire all who follow in the practice of neurological surgery.

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