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“Like the real thing”?

Feedback on the prepared bodies and wrap-up on the neuroanatomy training

Published onNov 14, 2023
“Like the real thing”?



The master neurosurgeon continues the demonstration of the approach through the Sylvian fissure. A bigger group of trainees is now assembled to contemplate the images on the big screen. Where does this “Sylvian” fissure come from? My ethnographic research partner Anna looks up on her phone, “I’m sure I knew that.” It’s named after an anatomist of the 16th century. Many landmarks of the brains are named after white males from another age, they have put their little flags there as well, piece after piece. Anna is very admirative of the style of Andreas Raabe. “He is super minimalist,” she says. “Prof. Vajkoczy is also a big-time minimalist, but this is even more reduced.” Practice does that: going straight to the point, no hesitation or touching this or that.

This was also an important conversation at the conclusion of the training on Sunday: Peter Vajkoczy was sceptical of the too-detailed account of some of his colleagues. As my colleague Thomas reports to me the last discussions he attended, he seems to share the opinion of his boss: neurosurgery is not (only) about anatomy, it’s a fine balance with practice, and one doesn’t need to know it all. Peter Vajkoczy went on to say to the audience that it might be counterproductive to know too much. Too much curiosity and knowledge could cripple neurosurgeons by making their navigation lengthy and overly precautious. Absorbed by the beauty of it all, they would do a bit of this and a bit of that, taking an hour and a half whereas the chief would just push the stuff on the side, he says, and be done with that in five minutes—better for the patient and for the team. Overall, the course was a big success, with room for improvement. Next year, they will try again to strike the right chord between an optimized teaching of action landmarks for neurosurgeons, and a brilliant in-depth neuroanatomy conference, and I can’t wait to attend these conversations.

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