George J. Heuer: Forgotten pioneer neurosurgeon at the Johns Hopkins Hospital

William B. Borden, Rafael J. Tamargo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


George J. Heuer was a pioneer in neurosurgery at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in the early 20th century; he trained under Harvey Cushing and acted as a mentor to Walter Dandy. In his early career, Heuer focused on research and clinical work in the field of neurosurgery and temporarily led the neurosurgery section at Johns Hopkins. One of his most important contributions to neurosurgery was the modem frontotemporal craniotomy. This elegant craniotomy, which initially was used to approach chiasmal tumors, developed into the modem frontosphenotemporal craniotomy, which neurosurgeons use to approach numerous tumors as well as most aneurysms. Although Dandy is frequently credited with inventing this operation, his article detailing the new approach clearly attributes its origin to Heuer, who was serving in World War I when the new technique was presented. Although he had hoped to lead the neurosurgical section at Johns Hopkins permanently, he returned from military service to find that Dandy had been appointed to this position. Heuer subsequently advanced to a distinguished career in general surgery as the chairman of surgery at two institutions, and was known for his contributions to surgical education. Throughout his academic years, Heuer continued to operate on the nervous system and to perform spinal cord and peripheral nerve surgery. He played an important role along with Cushing and Dandy in the creation of neurosurgery as a specialty, but he is rarely given credit for this accomplishment. The authors describe Heuer's contributions to neurosurgery as well as his distinguished surgical career.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1146
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Craniotomy
  • Frontotemporal approach
  • George J. Heuer
  • Harvey Cushing
  • Neurosurgical history
  • Walter Dandy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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