|MASTER OF NEUROSURGERY
ARMANDO BASSO, PIONEER OF NEUROSURGERY
This Argentinian-Italian neurosurgeon has probably the largest number of recognitions in the neurosurgical world, going from academic titles to the badge with the five-armed Maltese asterisk hung on the oak and laurel wreath of the French Legion of Honor. Speaking five languages, Prof. Basso masters in skull base, pituitary adenomas and orbital tumors like almost anybody else. After serving in leading position WFNS Foundation for many years, his contribution to global neurosurgery is legendary.
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What is for you the three main changes in Neurosurgery during the last decades?
We can divide the surgery of the 20th century into two periods 1900-1960 and 1960 to the present day.
Modern neurosurgery was born with Víctor Horsley, considering the father of modern neurosurgery, in 1900 and during these first 60 years there were discrete advances, especially in diagnosis, since in the 20s was introduced the ventriculography, in the 30s the arteriography by direct puncture, but the advancement meant only the surgical skill of eminent neurosurgeons.
Starting in 1960, a fundamental change occurred with the introduction of the surgical microscope in neurosurgery and the development of microsurgical techniques that consequently produced an extraordinary change in the surgical outcome in patients. From then on, vertiginous changes occurred with the introduction of computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging in the 70s and 80s.
Another important aspect to be noted in recent decades is the development of detailed neurosurgical anatomy that enabled better knowledge of the pathology of the skull base increased with the reintroduction of the Endoscope in Neurosurgery.
You are one of the most expert in pituitary surgery. What is your advice for those interested in that field?
From the strictly neurosurgical point of view, a young neurosurgeon interested in the pathology of the sellar region should be trained in the transnasal microsurgical and endoscopic approach as well as in the various possibilities of the transcranial approaches.
On the other hand, considering that the pituitary and hypothalamus are structures that intensely compromise the neuro endocrine system with all its pathology, the neurosurgeon interested in it has the obligation to know also the clinical and biological aspects of it.
Why your vocation to become brain surgeon?
I can say that practically since my childhood, because in my generation we had neither television nor electronic toys, only books, and at that time some of them came to my hands that spoke to me about that mysterious organ called the human brain.
When I started my medical career, obviously the first subject is human anatomy, as it is everywhere, and at the University of Buenos Aires the Anatomy Institute is divided into three sectors, one of them is called "anatomy of the nervous system" and I, after having completed and approved all anatomy, I asked my Professor to stay at the Institute as a trainer of anatomical pieces in the department of neuro anatomy where I stayed working for four years.
One year before finishing my medical degree at the neuropsychiatric hospital in Buenos Aires, I had the opportunity that an eminent neurosurgeon accept me as his assistant and it was at that time that my decision was definitely taken.
Your advice for the new generations of physicians to be involved in WFNS?
The WFNS that represents all the Neurosurgical Societies of the world and since its foundation in 1955 to date has slowly evolved from a Federation dedicated to organizing every four years a World Congress to an Organization today dedicated not only to what has already been said but also and fundamentally to education and humanitarian aid dedicated to regions or Countries in neuro-surgical needs.
Any neurosurgeon in the world with a vocation for this type of activity and objective can approach the WFNS through their local Societies first, and consequently contact the different Committees of the WFNS.
Professor, tell us something about your most successful operation you can remember?
It is very difficult for me with 60 years of Neurosurgeon and thousands of surgeries performed to remember one in particular but there is one due to its media impact that I can do it.
It was at the famous Santa Lucia hospital in Buenos Aires. It was a young man of approximately 30 years old, with a huge clival chordoma that tumor had already invaded not only the two orbits but also the nasal cavity, the paranasal sinuses, the pharynx and both pterygomaxillary fossae. It was a complete transfacial approach, an intervention that lasted more than 20 hours with complete resection of the tumor and facial and maxillary reconstruction. I remember this case that was many years ago because this person who was well known in the city appeared in the newspapers as the person whose face had been changed.
It is an anecdotal case from the medical point of view but above all from the media point of view.
Three necessary virtues to become an adept neurosurgeon?
As we know, praxis is the final application in our patients of the infinite elements that make up the personality and training of the neurosurgeon.
The family, the social environment, ethical and humanistic training, education at all levels, study, sacrifice and love for others. Whether the practice is good or bad will depend on the final balance of each of these elements
Your most memorable remembrance during your WFNS Presidency?
My fondest memories and satisfaction in the early 1990s and later during my Presidency was being able to put into practice the worldwide neurosurgical Education Program with new rules designed by President Symon and myself that transformed the vision to date that any Neurosurgeon in the world can have on the ultimate and perhaps the most important goal of the WFNS.
Some comments about the WFNS training centers?
The Training Centers were and are the armed wing of the aforementioned education program that was put into practice immediately after the creation of the WFNS Foundation in 1999 at the initiative of Madjid Samii and Gerardo in Martin Rodriguez and where I had the honor of directing for 15 years, five as Secretary and 10 as President. As we know, the Training Centers are of two categories, some Reference Centers with complete training of neurosurgeons from countries and regions in need for 4 or 5 years, and others called Post-Graduation Training Centers located in countries with a high technical level and that serve to complete the training of neurosurgeons in short stays.
These centers work thanks to the invaluable collaboration of Professors, Institutes, Universities and Hospitals who actively collaborate and with their own resources to the education of young colleagues.
WFNS Foundation set of instruments and equipment for developing countries was one of your major contribution. Next step?
Finally speaking of gratitude and collaboration, this has to be directed to the neurosurgical instruments industry fundamental for developing modern neurosurgical activity.
World-class surgical microscopes, endoscopes, complete surgical sets for cranial and spinal surgery, high-speed drills, complete bipolar sets, stereotaxic frames, etc. All of this is offered to the WFNS Foundation for distribution at prices so low that I am sure they do not even compensate the manufacturing costs.
From me, infinite thanks to all of them.
Now the Foundation is in good hands, I am sure it will continue its mission and, as I always maintain, it fulfills the two most important functions of the WFNS, education and humanitarian, trying to solve the most important problem in the modern world, which is health inequality.