António Caetano de Abreu Freire Egas Moniz (29 November 1874 – 13 December 1955), known as Egas Moniz, was a Portuguese neurologist and the developer of cerebral angiography. He is regarded as one of the founders of modern psychosurgery, having developed the surgical procedure leucotomy—known better today as lobotomy—for which he became the first Portuguese national to receive a Nobel Prize in 1949 (shared with Walter Rudolf Hess).
He held academic positions, wrote many medical articles and also served in several legislative and diplomatic posts in the Portuguese government. In 1911 he became professor of neurology in Lisbon until his retirement in 1944. At the same time, he pursued a demanding political career.
Moniz was born in Avanca, Estarreja, Portugal as António Caetano de Abreu Freire Egas Moniz. He attended Escola do Padre José Ramos and Colégio de S. Fiel dos Jesuítas, studied medicine at the University of Coimbra, then trained in neurology in Bordeaux and Paris. In 1902, he became a professor in the Department of Neurology, but soon left that post on entering politics in 1903.
He established the Partido Republicano Centrista and represented it in the Portuguese parliament from 1903 to 1917. Later he was Portugal's ambassador to Madrid (1917) and minister of foreign affairs (1918). Meanwhile he continued to practice medicine and teach physiology and anatomy, and in 1911 he became a professor of neurology at the newly established University of Lisbon.
In 1920, he gave up politics and returned to medicine and writing full-time. In 1927 Moniz developed cerebral angiography, a technique allowing blood vessels in and around the brain to be visualized; in various forms it remains a fundamental tool both in diagnosis and in the planning of surgeries on the brain.
For this, he was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize. He also contributed to the development of Thorotrast for use in the procedure and contributed many lectures and papers on the subject. He is considered a pioneer in the field.
In 1936, he published his first report of performing a prefrontal leucotomy on a human patient, and subsequently devised the leucotome for use in the procedure. He judged the results acceptable in the first 40 or so patients he treated, claiming, "Prefrontal leukotomy is a simple operation, always safe, which may prove to be an effective surgical treatment in certain cases of mental disorder."
He also claimed that any behavioral and personality deterioration that may occur was outweighed by reduction in the debilitating effects of the illness. But he conceded that patients who had already deteriorated from the mental illness did not benefit much, and he did no long-term follow up. The procedure enjoyed a brief vogue, and in 1949 he received the Nobel Prize, "for his discovery of the therapeutic value of leucotomy in certain psychoses."
In 1949, Moniz was shot by a patient, and subsequently used a wheelchair. He continued in private practice until 1955, when he died just as his procedure was falling into disrepute.
Cerebral angiography is a form of angiography which provides images of blood vessels in and around the brain, thereby allowing detection of abnormalities such as arteriovenous malformations and aneurysms.
Psychosurgery, also called neurosurgery for mental disorder (NMD), is the neurosurgical treatment of mental disorder. Psychosurgery has always been a controversial medical field. The modern history of psychosurgery begins in the 1880s under the Swiss psychiatrist Gottlieb Burckhardt.
Lobotomy (Greek: λοβός lobos "lobe (of brain)"; τομή tomē "cut, slice") is a neurosurgical procedure, a form of psychosurgery, also known as a leukotomy or leucotomy (from the Greek λευκός leukos "clear, white" and tome). It consists of cutting or scraping away most of the connections to and from the prefrontal cortex, the anterior part of the frontal lobes of the brain.
Thorotrast is a suspension containing particles of the radioactive compound thorium dioxide, ThO2, that was used as a radiocontrast agent in medical radiography in the 1930s and 1940s.
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This forefather Darwin sow seeds of evolution much earlier; a polymath physician who declined King's offer to serve him!!!