The first neurosurgical unit in Scotland was opened in Edinburgh in 1937. Neurosurgery was still a very new specialty and most neurosurgery was carried out by general surgeons. After the second world war the neurosurgery unit in Aberdeen was opened in 1948.
Norman McOmish Dott (1897-1973) developed surgical neurology in Edinburgh, Scotland, and was a scholar of worldwide renown. One of Dott's most notable contributions to neurosurgery was his understanding of hypothalamus physiology, mostly acquired through the comprehensive study of patients with lesions involving this region of the diencephalon, particularly craniopharyngiomas (CPs). Recognition of symptoms caused by hypothalamic disturbances allowed him to predict the accurate anatomical relationships between CPs and the hypothalamus, despite the rudimentary radiological methods available during the 1930s. His sophisticated knowledge permitted Dott to perform radical removals of CPs originating within the third ventricle floor with acceptable success. Between 1934 and 1937, he operated on 4 CP cases originating in the hypothalamus, achieving a satisfactory postoperative outcome in 3 of the 4 patients. Aware of the strong attachment of hypothalamic CPs to the infundibulo-tuberal area, Dott used a double transbasal and transventricular approach to these lesions, a strategy providing an optimal view and control of the tumor boundaries. The decisive mentorship of several legendary figures of physiology and neurosurgery greatly influenced Dott's surgical evolution. The experimental pituitary gland work he performed with Sir Edward Sharpey-Schäfer at the beginning of his career stirred Dott's curiosity about the issue of hypothalamus-pituitary relationships. As a result, he decided to move to Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (Boston, Massachusetts) in 1923, to train in neurosurgery and neuropathology under the guidance of the leaders in these fields, Harvey Williams Cushing (1869-1939) and Percival Sylvester Bailey (1892-1973). They inspired the young Dott and shared with him their clinical and pathological expertise, in addition to their surgical strategies for best approaching and removing these challenging tumors. In time, Dott would come to surpass his mentors 1).