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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 14-15

Creativity in neurosurgery

Department of Neurosurgery, Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication02-Nov-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sunil K Pandya
11, 5th Floor, Shanti Kuteer, 215 Marine Drive, Mumbai 400 020, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJNO.IJNO_402_21

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How to cite this article:
Pandya SK. Creativity in neurosurgery. Int J Neurooncol 2021;4, Suppl S1:14-5

How to cite this URL:
Pandya SK. Creativity in neurosurgery. Int J Neurooncol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 May 22];4, Suppl S1:14-5. Available from: https://www.Internationaljneurooncology.com/text.asp?2021/4/3/14/329797

  Introduction Top

Creativity has been defined as the quality that leads to the development of useful innovations and works of art [Figure 1]. When used in our science, it leads to new, elegant, simple, safe, and effective operations for hitherto untreatable diseases. It can also result in the development of new instruments and equipment. The end result is improvement in the humane and effective care of our patients.
Figure 1: Each human being dips his brush into the palette of his soul and starts painting the canvas of his experiences. He does not have to look far! In every frame of his vision, nature unfolds its art, creativity, and innovation for him to get inspired by and emulate

Click here to view

  Prerequisites Top

Innovation demands a deep study of all that has been done in the past so that the wheel is not re-invented. It also requires reflection and unhurried contemplation. Discipline is a sine qua non if success is to follow.

Those who have advanced our art and science were driven by a dis-satisfaction with the status quo. This led to inspired, careful, and persistent effort focused on improving matters.

Einstein phrased it well when he said that creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.

Many of us are deterred by the fear of being guilty of “silly thoughts” but unorthodox approaches may be exactly what is required for breakthroughs.

It is also important to commune with great minds – past and present and develop a cohort that will nourish and encourage our efforts.

Edward De Bono propagated a concept in 1967. His definitive book on the subject (De Bono Edward: Lateral thinking: Creativity step by step. New York Harper and Row 1970) soon became a bestseller. In it, he quoted the example of King Solomon (died in 931 B.C.E.) settling a dispute that would have floored many. Two women claimed motherhood of an little infant and demanded possession. He ordered the baby to be divided vertically using a sword so that halves could be handed over to the two women. The true mother was identified by her utter dismay and begging, through tears, that instead, the baby be handed to the other woman. Such lateral thinking can aid us as well.

  Impediments to Creativity in our Country Top

Our system of education

We teach our children to memorize, not think; accept whatever is taught to them without questioning and admonish them when they dare to think “out of the box.” Instances of teachers refusing to accept unusual but valid solutions to mathematical and other problems, at variance with what is printed in the text books are legion.

This pattern continues in medical colleges. Hierarchy rules and a consultant may criticize and even ridicule a rational and logical suggestion made by a junior resident.

Huge and disabling burdens

The large number of patients that flood most public teaching hospitals leave little time for cogitation. Medical students have to find time for tuition classes after their scheduled lectures and practicals. Exhausted residents collapse into deep slumber on hitting their pillow from which they will be aroused before they have had their quota of rest. In both instances, there is neither time nor energy for original thought.

Lack of role models

Teachers in many of our medical colleges are inspired more by Lakshmi and less by Saraswati. The consequences are obvious. Research papers that can change medical care for the better seldom emerge from such institutions. When Indian authors do produce admirable and original work, they do so from departments and laboratories in the U.S.A. or Europe. The soil in our country does not appear to favor originality and creativity.

If this be true of teachers, the consequences for their students can be easily imagined.

Recognition and awards seldom made on merit

A critical review of the names, careers, and contributions of those featuring in the lists of recipients in awards ranging from the most exalted (Padma Shri onwards) to those honored by medical associations and societies will show the deterioration over the decades. Politics, nepotism, and favoritism have made unfortunate inroads into these selections.

Quality of Indian medical journals

While the actual production of our journals is now of international quality, we lack professionalism in the editorial staff. In far too many instances, the editor is in active practice and is thus not wholly dedicated to the journal. Many editors lack the skill needed to ensure consistently high standards of research, quality of presentation, and intellectual discourse.

Proper evaluation of our publications would involve comparison with the best journals in the world. Even a cursory analysis shows the wide gulf separating these two groups. The few merited Indian authors inevitably prefer sending their best papers to international journals, thus leading to further lowering of standards here.

Intellectual giants

A scrutiny of creativity in neurosurgery elicits numerous names. Even if we restrict our survey to the period after Harvey Cushing (1869–1939), we can easily summon up several individuals. Walter Dandy (1886–1946), Egaz Moniz (1874–1955), and Wilder Penfield (1891–1976) are some individuals universally recognized and admired. Coming nearer to our own times, we honor Charles Drake (1920–1998), Jules Hardy (1932-), Bryan Jennett (1926–2008), Kenichiro Sugita (1932–1994), and of course, Mahmut Gazi Yaşargil (1925-) and Majid Samii (1937-).

We need no listing of the products of their creativity.

I will leave to you the listing of similar giants from India.

Thought to ponder

I find these statements by Dr. Yasargil in one of his volumes on Microneurosurgery relevant:

  • “Our ability to continue to rely on the old paradigms… is questionable… Conceptually innovative ideas relating to individual surgical anatomy, neuroimaging, and neuropathology (are necessary)…
  • “…Each surgical action comprises not only science, experience, knowledge, and techniques but also artistic, philosophical, and religious attitudes from a neurosurgeon…”

I would like you to focus on two words in the last sentence: artistic and philosophical. In the context of neurosurgery, they are especially meaningful.


  [Figure 1]


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