Curious History:  Craniometers

Swiss surgeon Theodor Kocher (1841-1917) was honored with the Nobel Prize for his innovative approaches to pathology and surgery. One of his most interesting contributions to the neurosurgical equipment of his time is a craniometer, used to correlate the location of intracranial pathology to landmarks on the surface of the cranium.

Craniometers were instruments used for measuring the human cranium or skull. There origins were first dubbed as medical quackery as they were used for phrenology. Phrenology is the pseudo science of determining ones behavior and personality by the shape of their head. Kocher’s version actually worked. He used it for the precise recording and comparative study of skulls for use in surgery.

They contributed significantly to the advancement of neurological surgery, allowing localization of known functional centers as well as lesions of the brain in a 3-dimensional system.