The birth of neurosurgery as a speciality in Norway
Neurosurgery in Norway started with Vilhelm Magnus (1871-1929). He was born by Norwegian parents in Minnesota, but the family moved back to Norway due to his mother’s ill health when he was still a child. After finishing high school in Bergen he studied medicine in Oslo at the same time as Roald Amundsen until the latter left the university in order to fully concentrate on his explorations.
Following Vilhelm Magnus, neurosurgical procedures were for whike performed by professor Ragnvald Ingebrigtsen (1882-1975). Arne Torkildsen's (b. 1899) interest in neurosurgery started at the time of Magnus' death in 1929. Torkildsen trained abroad, first 1 year at the National Hospital in London and then 4 years with Wilder Penfield in Montreal as one of his first four fellows. His research activities included the anatomy of the ventricles and intracranial tumors. Torkildsen returned to Oslo in 1935 and became chief of a separate section for neurosurgery in 1940. In Oslo, he invented what is known as the Torkildsen operation for noncommunicating hydrocephalus (a shunt from the lateral ventricle to the cisterna magna). He published the first four cases in 1939, and the methods were soon adopted in major neurosurgical departments (29, 30). Torkildsen was considered a very good surgeon, and some of the children he operated on during the 1940s for intracranial tumors are still alive and well functioning.
Following the work of these pioneers, departments of neurosurgery were established in both teaching hospitals in Oslo (Ullevål and Rikshospitalet) under the leadership of professor Kristian Kristiansen (b. 1907) and professor Tormod Hauge (b. 1909). Later on departments were established in Bergen, Trondheim and Tromsø (for the latter see Ingebrigtsen T, Romner B, Solberg T, Nygaard ØP. History of the northernmost neurosurgical department in the world. Neurosurgery. 2003;53:731-40).