Dr Michel Van Vyve

Date of birth: 8 August 1946 (family of 9 children) Birthplace: Antwerp

Establishment of the neurosurgery department of Universitair Ziekenhuis Antwerpen in 1980: I worked there as the first qualified full-time neurosurgeon. The department was later led by Professor Selosse and over five years grew into one of the most important departments of its kind in Belgium, with 60 beds. Almost 1,000 operations were performed there.

My main specialisations were in paediatric neurosurgery, operations on tumours, treatment of hydrocephalus in children and in particular treatment of craniofacial dysmorphies and craniostenosis, dysmorphies involving the complete reconstruction of the cranium and face: techniques that were optimised by for example the Montpellier schools (Prof. FreĢ€rebeau and Prof. Sauris), where I was the first assistant ‘chef de clinique’.

Alongside paedriatric neurosurgery, I focused especially on treatments for vascular brain malformations, pituitary gland deviations, percutaneous techniques for treating facial pain and cordotomies.

In that period I took a training course with Professor Cloward, who is world famous for anterior approaches to cervical spinal techniques which were applied for the first time in Belgium at the neurosurgery department of Universitair Ziekenhuis Antwerpen.

During the period when this department was being developed, I made particular efforts to complement the training of neurosurgery and intensive care nurses.

I was then appointed assistant head of the neurosurgery department. From 1987, when Professor Selosse fell ill, I was given the task of heading up the department, training students and trainees, giving clinical lessons in neurosurgery and also continuing the training of four neurosurgery assistants who were for the most part trained by me.

In 1990, I was approached by the management of the hospital OLV-Ziekenhuis and Dr Cuvelier with a view to starting a new neurosurgery department. I accepted their offer because after ten years of a university career I was disappointed that the clinical work in academic hospitals was still undervalued and many university doctors were spending more time on building up their CV than treating their patients.

Six months later I joined forces in OLV-Ziekenhuis with Dr Frederic Martens and in a short time a fully fledged neurosurgery department was built up with very high- level technical equipment and skilled and well trained neurosurgical nursing and paramedic staff.

In 1991, the first unit for stereotactic radiosurgery in the Benelux was launched and our department remains a benchmark for this treatment.

In 1995 - in another first for the Benelux - a neuronavigation system was commissioned in OLV-Ziekenhuis. It was used there routinely for a number of years before it became the general system.
Patients from all over Belgium and neighbouring countries and further afield come to the neurosurgery department to be treated for brain and spinal conditions. The annual level of activity continues to grow.

Fellow neurosurgeons from abroad visit us regularly to see and learn new techniques.