Meningiomas Surgery in Italy in the Nineteenth Century: Historical Review

Review Article

Austin Neurosurg Open Access. 2015;2(2): 1030.

Meningiomas Surgery in Italy in the Nineteenth Century: Historical Review

Sebastiano Paterniti*

Department of Neurosciences, University of Messina, Italy

*Corresponding author: Sebastiano Paterniti, Department of Neurosciences, University of Messina, Italy, Viale Consolare Valeria, Gazzi, 98100 Messina, Italy

Received: May 11, 2015; Accepted: June 26, 2015; Published: June 29, 2015


The meningiomas occupy a very important role in the history of neurosurgery. This work refers the remarkable contributions of Italian authors in the early ages in the surgery of these tumors.

Through an extensive literature review it was possible to find at least twentytwo cases operated on in Italy in the nineteenth century.

The author emphasizes the pioneering aspects of the operations performed by Andrea Vacca’Berlinghieri (Pisa, 1813), Zanobi Pecchioli (Siena, 1835), Francesco Durante (Rome, 1884), and Guido Bendandi (Bologna, 1895). These cases are widely mentioned in the international literature on meningiomas, but other cases reported here were not cited in published reviews.

It should be stressed that the results recorded in the cases examined in this study were generally positive, with a mortality rate of 28.6% and a good outcome in 71.4%.

Although the literature has been extensively reviewed for this work, the research cannot be considered complete; likely at that time other cases of meningiomas were surgically treated in our country and it is realistic to believe that not all have been published.

Keywords: Meningiomas surgery; Italy; Nineteenth century


In Italy the surgery of cranio-cerebral tumors began in the nineteenth century, thanks to the courage and the value of some great general surgeons.

At the beginning only tumors with extracranial expansion or those causing changes in the overlying skull could be diagnosed and occasionally removed; in the last decades of the century, the progressive knowledge on the localization of brain functions, made possible the diagnosis of tumors even in the absence of external manifestations, based on neurological signs and symptoms; the introduction of anesthesia, asepsis and antisepsis allowed sometimes to remove also neoplasms with intracranial location alone.

Undoubtedly, the meningiomas occupy an important place in the history of brain tumors and, therefore, in the history of neurosurgery; before all, the meningioma, a term coined by Harvey Cushing in 1922 and variously called first (fungoid tumor of the dura mater, sarcoma, endothelioma, fibroma, fibrosarcoma, psammoma) is the brain tumor known for the longest time, since ancient times, as it could result in changes of the skull. For this reason the meningioma also represents the first brain tumor for which the operative practice was possible.

The first attempts to surgically treat the meningiomas date back to the mid-eighteenth century; however, their surgical removal substantially began in the 19th century.

It should be recognized to Italians a remarkable historical role in the meningiomas surgery. In this paper the main contributions of Italian authors are reported; some are considered important enough to be mentioned not only in works that have analyzed specifically the role of our compatriots in the historical evolution of neurosurgery [1-7] but also in many publications of the international literature on intracranial meningiomas, particularly on their historical aspects [8- 12].


For the present study many text-books and works on the history of the neurosurgery, in particular on the part of the surgery of meningiomas have been consulted; furthermore, a search was made using Pubmed and Pubmed central.

Through this review methodology I found at least twenty-two cases of meningiomas surgically treated in Italy in the nineteenth century. Table 1 shows a summary of the most important data of these cases [13-38].