Brain Surgery Saved Russian General Who Helped Defeat Napoleon

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Niacin Flush Benefit for MemoryAccording to new evidence published in the Journal of Neurosurgery, scientists at Barrow Neurological Institute have discovered that Napoleon Bonaparte, better known as Napoleon, may have defeated Russia in 1812—if it wasn’t for a certain brain surgery.

After a two-year, three-continent investigation, researchers discovered that French surgeon Jean Massot performed brain surgery that saved the life of Russian general Mikhail Kutuzov (he required an operation after bullets passed through his head twice.)

The chair of neurosurgery research director at Barrow, Dr. Mark C. Preul, explains, “It’s a story of how medicine changed the course of civilization.”

According to history, Kutuzov survived two headshots in 1774 and 1788, and later played a major part in the prevention of Napoleon’s invaders. Massot used ahead-of-its-time modernistic surgical techniques that are still used today. The neurosurgery helped the Russian general apparently overcome mortal wounds. Researchers found that the first bullet from 1774 had destroyed the frontal lobe of Kutuzov. He had suffered the seemingly fatal injury in Crimea during battle against the Turks.

After the first gunshot wound, Kutuzov’s injury had likely interfered with his personality and decision-making abilities. For instance, Kutuzov delayed confronting Napoleon’s forces in autumn 1812. Instead, the Russian general fled with his army safely to the east of Moscow. Napoleon’s army would follow and invade Moscow; however, they were short on supplies and food. In the end, they weren’t prepared for the harsh Russian winter. That led to Napoleon returning to Paris, defeated, in December of 1812.

Dr. Preul adds, “The brain surgery saved Kutuzov’s life, but his brain and eye were badly injured. However ironically the healing resolution of this situation allowed him to make what turned out to be the best decision. If he had not been injured, he may well have challenged Napoleon and been defeated.”

Napoleon was a political and French military leader that became recognized during his dominance in the French Revolution.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Kushchayev, S., et al., “Two bullets to the head and an early winter: fate permits Kutuzov to defeat Napoleon at Moscow,” Journal of Neurosurgery, July 2015; 39(1), E3, doi:
“Napoleon Bonaparte,” History web site;, last accessed July 30, 2015.
“Brain surgery saved Russian general who help defeat Napoleon: Scientists ‘rewrite’ history books,” ScienceDaily website, July 29, 2015;