|Born||November 23, 1907
|Died||1986 (aged 78)
|Known for||Invention of Radiosurgery.|
|Institutions||University of Lund|
Life and work
Lars Leksell was born in Fässberg Parish, Sweden on November 23, 1907. He obtained his medical degree from the Karolinska Institutet in 1935 and began training in neurosurgery in the same year. He became a professor of surgery at University of Lund in 1958. From 1960 until his retirement, in 1974, he was Professor of Neurosurgery at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, succeeding Herbert Olivecrona, who was the department's founder in 1920. He died in 1986.
Professor Lars Leksell was one of the first to develop a stereotactic apparatus exclusively for human functional neurosurgery in 1949, following the pioneering work of American neurosurgeons Ernest A. Spiegel and Henry T. Wycis in 1947. It was based on the Horsley–Clarke apparatus developed for animal experimentation by the British neurosurgeon Sir Victor Horsley at University College London in 1908, but instead of using the cartesian coordinate frame, it used polar coordinates. The Leksell Stereotactic Frame was and still is in wide use today. Using it, Leksell and his collaborators stand also among the pioneers in the surgical approach to the treatment of Parkinson's Disease, a degenerative condition of the motor system of the brain, by precisely lesioning a small structure in the basal ganglia, by means of an operation called pallidotomy.
In 1951, using the Uppsala University cyclotron, Leksell and the physicist and radiobiologist Borje Larsson, developed the concept of radiosurgery. Leksell and Larsson first employed gamma rays coming from several directions into a small area into the brain, in experiments in animals and in the first treatments of human patients. He called this technique "strålkniven" (the ray knife). Thus, he achieved a new non-invasive method of destroying discrete anatomical regions within the brain while minimizing the effect on the surrounding tissues. Later, a special apparatus known as the Gamma Knife, was developed by Lars Leksell in 1968. It is a stereotactic device which contains multiple radioactive cobalt sources and is dedicated solely to radiosurgery. Today, Leksell's technique is used as an effective treatment for many conditions such as vestibular schwannomas (first surgery performed at Karolinska in 1969), pituitary tumors (also in 1969), arteriovenous malformations (in 1970) craniopharyngiomas, meningiomas (in 1976), metastatic and skull base tumors (in 1986), and primary brain tumors. The Leksell Gamma Knife is manufactured by Elekta Instruments AB, a Swedish company which manufactures stereotactic surgery and radiosurgery equipment based on the inventions of Lars Leksell. It was founded by him and his son, Laurent Leksell, in 1972.
Lars Leksell served as a mentor for a number of other leading neurosurgeons including L. Dade Lunsford who established the first U.S. Gamma Knife center at the University of Pittsburgh and Stanford Professor John R. Adler, the inventor of Cyberknife.
Aside from the Gamma Knife, Leskell created a few surgical instruments to assist in neurosurgical procedures, most notably the Leskell Rongeur. The Leksell Rongeur is used to bite pieces of bone off of the skull or spinal lamina to expose the structures below.
Tools used by the surgeon must be adapted to the task and where the human brain is concerned, no tool can be too refined. Lars Leksell.
To know more
- The History of Stereotactical Radiosurgery, by Stephen B. Tatter, MD, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Dept. Neurosurgery.
- Lunsford LD: Lars Leksell. Notes at the side of a raconteur. Stereotact Funct Neurosurg. 1996–97;67(3–4):153–68.
- Larsson B, Leksell L, Rexed B, et al.: The high energy proton beam as a neurosurgical tool. Nature 182:1222–3, 1958;
- Leksell L: The stereotaxic method and radiosurgery of the brain. Acta Chir Scand 102:316–19, 1951.