, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 683–691 | Cite as

Walter E. Dandy: his contributions to pituitary surgery in the context of the overall Johns Hopkins Hospital experience

  • Andrea Corsello
  • Giulia Di Dalmazi
  • Fabiana Pani
  • Paulina Chalan
  • Roberto Salvatori
  • Patrizio Caturegli



Walter E. Dandy (1886–1946) was an outstanding neurosurgeon who spent his entire career at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. After graduating from medical school in 1910, he completed a research fellowship in the Hunterian laboratory with Harvey Cushing and then joined the Department of Surgery as resident, rising to the rank professor in 1931. Dandy made several contributions that helped building the neurosurgical specialty, most famously the introduction of pneumo-ventriculography to image brain lesions for which he received a Nobel prize nomination. He also performed many pituitary surgeries, although his role in this area is less known and overshadowed by that of Cushing’s.


This retrospective cohort study was designed to unveil Dandy’s pituitary work and place it in the context of the overall pituitary surgeries performed at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.


Pituitary surgery data were obtained by screening the paper and electronic surgical pathology records of the Department of Pathology, as well as the general operating room log books of the Johns Hopkins Hospital housed in the Chesney Medical Archives.


A total of 3211 pituitary surgeries associated with a pathological specimen were performed between February 1902 and July 2017 in 2847 patients. Most of the surgeries (2875 of 3211 89%) were done by 21 neurosurgeons. Dandy ranks 4th as number of surgeries, with 287 pituitary operations in 35 years of activity. He averaged 8 pituitary surgeries per year, a rate that positions him 6th among all Hopkins neurosurgeons. With the exception of his first operation done in July 1912 while Cushing was still at Hopkins, Dandy approached the pituitary gland transcranially, rather than transphenoidally. The majority of Dandy’s pituitary patients had a pathological diagnosis of pituitary adenomas, followed by craniopharyngiomas and sellar cysts. In the decades Dandy operated, pituitary surgeries represented 0.56% of the total Johns Hopkins surgeries, a percentage significantly greater (p < 0.001) than the 0.1% observed in modern days. Dandy’s pituitary clinical work was matched by important experimental studies done in the early stages of his career.


This study highlights the role of Dandy as an important contributor to advance our understanding of pathophysiology and treatment of pituitary diseases.


Walter E. Dandy Harvey W. Cushing Pituitary surgery History of endocrinology 



The work was supported by NIH Grant RO1 CA-194042 to P.C. The authors are grateful to Ms. Marjorie Kehoe and Phoebe Evans Letocha of the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives for their assistance with the study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 39 KB)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 158 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Corsello
    • 1
  • Giulia Di Dalmazi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Fabiana Pani
    • 1
    • 3
  • Paulina Chalan
    • 1
  • Roberto Salvatori
    • 4
  • Patrizio Caturegli
    • 1
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Division of Immunology, Department of PathologyThe Johns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine and Aging Sciences“G. D’Annunzio” University of Chieti-PescaraChietiItaly
  3. 3.Department of Medical Sciences and Public Health, Endocrinology UnitUniversity of CagliariCagliariItaly
  4. 4.Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, and Pituitary CenterThe Johns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.Department of Molecular Microbiology and ImmunologyThe Johns Hopkins School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.Johns Hopkins PathologyBaltimoreUSA

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