Ludvig Puusepp

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Ludvig Puusepp (1875-1942) was born in Kiev on 3 December 1875. Puusepp’s father was an Estonian émigré and his mother was of Polish-Czech descent. Puusepp began his work in St. Petersburg and is notable for being the first professor in the world working as a neurosurgeon. When he was 44, Ludvig Puussepp managed to return to the land of his paternal ancestors where he was enthusiastically welcomed and granted citizenship the very year of his arrival. After a few months had passed, Puusepp was appointed professor of surgical neuropathology at Tartu University, where he performed Estonia’s first operation on a brain tumour on the 9 April 1921 in the clinic he himself had recently founded.

Puusepp is renowned not only for being a first-rate surgeon, but is also remembered as a tireless innovator who worked obsessively in order to make use of the latest developments in the field of neuroimaging. His achievements include devising a novel method for diagnosing syringomyelia together with developing a special surgical technique designed to counter this rare disease of the spinal cord. Puusepp is also notable for his attempts to measure brain pressure using customized pressure gauges – a novel technique at the time, which was only accepted as standard practice 30 years later.

Puusepp was a genuine pioneer who always remained two steps ahead of his time. His historic 1400-page magnum opus, Die chirurgische Neuropathologie, was left unfinished as his work was cut short by the onset of war and his eventual death. The Ülemiste City complex building located at Lõõtsa 2 is named after Ludvig Puusepp.