The task of telling Harvey Cushing’s story was taken on by authors Dr. Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol and Dr. Dennis D. Spencer. The authors’ research took them to the sub-basement of the Edward S. Harkness Medical School Dormitory at Yale University, where Cushing’s Brain Tumor Registry had been kept for sixty years untouched and largely unseen by the modern medical community.
"The Legacy of Harvey Cushing: Profiles of Patient Care" provides a rare glimpse into the Registry, drawing from its 2,200 case studies, some dating as early as 1887. Cohen-Gadol and Spencer engaged in the careful work of digitizing countless photographic negatives which Cushing had catalogued in chronological order. The authors then matched these photographs with the patients’ hospital records, complete with Cushing’s own operative sketches, reports at pre- and post-operative stages of patient care, postmortem reports, telegrams, and correspondence.
Neurological surgeons and neuropathologists will value the book for its clinical substance—indeed the photographs of patients, tumor and brain specimens represent some of the first documentation of the relentless course of neurological disease in the early twentieth century. Historians, artists, and photographers will appreciate the professional quality of the patients’ portraits, which not only depict disease, the results of intervention, and the patient’s course, but also together provide an intensely human face to the field of neurosurgery.
Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol, M.D., M.Sc., is a neurosurgeon at Indianapolis Neurosurgical Group, Clarian Health Care System, Methodist Hospital, and Indiana University and Riley Hospitals. Dr. Cohen-Gadol is based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dennis D. Spencer, M.D., is the Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Neurosurgery and Chair of Neurosurgery at Yale University. Dr. Spencer is based in New Haven, Connecticut.
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