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Minimally Invasive Surgery
Volume 2013, Article ID 171369, 18 pages
Review Article

From the Idea to Its Realization: The Evolution of Minimally Invasive Techniques in Neurosurgery

Neurosurgical Department, University of Saarland, 66424 Homburg, Germany

Received 26 January 2013; Accepted 25 July 2013

Academic Editor: John Y. K. Lee

Copyright © 2013 P. Grunert. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Minimally invasive techniques in neurosurgery evolved in two steps. Many minimally invasive concepts like neuronavigation, endoscopy, or frame based stereotaxy were developed by the pioneers of neurosurgery, but it took decades till further technical developments made the realization and broad clinical application of these early ideas safe and possible. This thesis will be demonstrated by giving examples of the evolution of four minimally invasive techiques: neuronavigation, transsphenoidal pituitary surgery, neuroendoscopy and stereotaxy. The reasons for their early failure and also the crucial steps for the rediscovery of these minimally invasive techniques will be analysed. In the 80th of the 20th century endoscopy became increasingly applied in different surgical fields. The abdominal surgeons coined as first for their endoscopic procedures the term minimally invasive surgery in contrast to open surgery. In neurrosurgery the term minimally invasive surgery stood not in opposiotion to open procedures but was understood as a general concept and philosophy using the modern technology such as neuronavigation, endoscopy and planing computer workstations with the aim to make the procedures less traumatic.