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BrainWaves #78 Evil spirits in your head: A brief history of trepanation

MedLink Neurology Podcast is delighted to feature selected episodes from BrainWaves, courtesy of James E Siegler MD, its originator and host. BrainWaves is an academic audio podcast whose mission is to educate medical providers through clinical cases and topical reviews in neurology, medicine, and the humanities, and episodes originally aired from 2016 to 2021.

Originally released: September 28, 2017

This week on BrainWaves, we go back in time to explore humans' oldest neurosurgical procedure. So carve out some time in your day to learn about the ancient technique of craniotomy.

Produced by James E Siegler. Music by Chris Zabriskie, Kai Engel, Kevin McLeod, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Sergey Cheremisinov. Voiceover by John Burnett. BrainWaves' podcasts and online content are intended for medical education only and should not be used for routine clinical practice. Please do NOT drill into anyone's head without their full and informed consent.


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Faria MA Jr. Violence, mental illness, and the brain - a brief history of psychosurgery: part 1 - From trephination to lobotomy. Surg Neurol Int 2013;4:49. PMID 23646259

Missios S. Hippocrates, Galen, and the uses of trepanation in the ancient classical world. Neurosurg Focus 2007;23(1):E11. PMID 17961050

Newman WC, Chivukula S, Grandhi R. From mystics to modern times: a history of craniotomy & religion. World Neurosurg 2016;92:148-50. PMID 27150646

Sperati G. Craniotomy through the ages. Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital 2007;27(3):151-6. PMID 17883195

Tsermoulas G, Aidonis A, Flint G. The skull of Chios: trepanation in Hippocratic medicine. J Neurosurg 2014;121(2):328-32. PMID 24857244

Verano JW, Finger S. Chapter 1: ancient trepanation. Handb Clin Neurol 2010;95:3-14. PMID 19892104

We believe that the principles expressed or implied in the podcast remain valid, but certain details may be superseded by evolving knowledge since the episode's original release date.

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