The legacy of hephaestus: The first craniotomy

Leonardo B.C. Brasiliense, Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Neil R. Crawford, Robert F. Spetzler, Nicholas Theodore

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Hephaestus is best known as the Greek god of metalworking, fire, and fine arts. As the only Olympian deity not endowed with physical perfection, he has been considered misfortunate among the Olympians. However, textual analysis of his myths reveals that Hephaestus was highly regarded by Greeks for his manual skills and intelligence. Furthermore, one of the myths about Hephaestus indicates that he performed the first recorded craniotomy. This text asserts that Hephaestus intentionally performed the craniotomy to remove a mass growing inside Zeus' head, thereby relieving him of an excruciating headache. The successful craniotomy resulted in the birth of the goddess Athena. From a neurosurgical perspective, the story is allegorical. Nonetheless, it represents the surgical management of intracranial ailments, which is thought to have been reported in Greece centuries later by Hippocrates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)881-884
Number of pages4
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Craniotomy
  • Hephaestus
  • Hippocrates
  • History of neurosurgery
  • Intracranial pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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