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Nicola Newall, Peter Bodkin
Journal Issue: 
Volume 49: Issue 1: 2019



A neurosurgical unit was established in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) in 1948 with the appointment of Martin Nichols as its first full-time neurosurgeon. Despite there being no formal neurosurgical ward or specialist dedicated to neurosurgery in ARI prior to this, a number of neurosurgical procedures were undertaken between 1920 and 1940. From 1923 to 1932, the procedures were predominantly cranial and were performed by general surgeons. The operations evolved in 1933 to include the spine and peripheral nerves after the arrival of Sir James Learmonth. This paper chronicles the development of surgical neurology at the ARI in the 30 years preceding a formal unit. It considers the factors and background that enabled neurosurgical practices to be undertaken and led to evolution of neurosurgery from general surgery.