This week we recognize Lars Leksell, a neurosurgical pioneer and the father of radiosurgery
Sunday Spotlight: Lars Leksell, The Inventor of Radiosurgery
In this week’s Sunday Spotlight, we recognize Lars Leksell - the inventor of Radiosurgery and the Father of Gamma Knife. Born in Fässberg Parish, Sweden, Leksell completed his medical education at the Karolinska Institute, one of the top medical universities in the world. He trained
in neurosurgery under Herbert Olivercrona, the Founder and Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Lund, another prestigious Swedish university. Early in his career, Leksell developed electronystagmography, a diagnostic test used to record involuntary movements of the eye. Continuing his scientific success and predisposition for innovation, Leksell went on to invent radiosurgery in partnership with Swedish physicist Borje Larsson. Combining radiosurgery with various modern imaging modalities including CT and MRI, Leksell’s invention germinated into many common treatments still used today, most famously Gamma Knife.
During his training, Leksell worked as a volunteer physician in Finland when it was attacked by the Soviet Union. He expressed interest in being able to remove bullets from the brain with minimal damage using some kind of mechanically guided instrument. Leksell continued his medical career working alongside Nobel Laureates, physicists, physiologists, and surgeons, studying neurophysiology and stereotactic surgery.
After developing the concept of radiosurgery, Leksell began clinical execution. Employing proton beams into a small area of the brain, he developed a novel non-invasive method of destroying specific and discrete anatomical regions of the brain. Refining these methods, Leksell furnished the first Gamma Knife prototype in 1968. Over his career, he successfully treated over 700 patients using the original technology. Four years later, Leksell founded Elekta Instruments Inc., a global manufacturer of stereotactic surgery and radiosurgery equipment based on his inventions.
In addition to his clinical and laboratory success, Lars Leksell served as professor of surgery at the University of Lund. After a successful tenure as professor, Leksell succeeded his mentor Dr. Olivercrona as Chairman of the Neurosurgery department. Passing away at the age of 78 on a walk through the Swiss Alps, Leksell died as a highly decorated and influential neurosurgeon.