Dr. Peter J. Jannetta, surgeon and vice chairman of the department of neurosurgery at Allegheny General Hospital, today will be awarded the Medal of Honor from the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies at its annual meeting in Boston.
The award honors Dr. Jannetta's contributions to medicine, which came out of his research into cranial nerve compression. Such compression of cranial nerves can lead to debilitating illnesses affecting sensation and motor function of the tongue, eyes and facial muscles.
A leading cranial nerve compression syndrome known as trigeminal neuralgia comes with chronic, severe facial pain. Dr. Jannetta found that it was caused by a compression of the fifth cranial nerve -- the trigeminal nerve -- by surrounding blood vessels.
He developed a microscopic procedure to put a tiny pad between the nerve and artery, relieving the compression.
From 1995-96, Dr. Jannetta served as state secretary of health. He was chairman of the department of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center from 1971 to 1997, joining Allegheny General in 2000.