History of surgery by rajgopal shenoy

Ancient Period

INDIA: Ayurveda is the name for ancient Hindu medicine. The origin of Ayurveda has been traced to Vedic times, about 5000 BC. Dhanwanthari is called the father of ayurvedic medicine. Application of bone prosthesis,  concepts of wound healing, ligation of bleeders and knowledge of instruments were known to the treating Vaidyas (doctors). Sushrutha is called the father of Indian surgery. His book Sushruta Samhita written in 1500 BC also describes various instruments and operations. Cutting of the nose and ears was a type of punishment in olden days. Hence the reconstruction of these organs was required. The result is ancient Indian rhinoplasty. It was very popular.

EGYPT: Civilization which took place along the Nile Valley also had a good knowledge about wound, case histories and even trephination

1 of skulls. All this information was written in leaf of papyrus plant which is still preserved.  King Hammurabi laid the code of conduct for the treatment and to the surgeons. For wrong treatment surgeons were punished by severing their hands.

CHINA: A few books are available describing physical signs, examination of pulse and acupuncture.

GREECE AND ROME: Hippocrates, known as the father of medicine and surgery was from an island of Cos. The description of amputation and treatment of ulcer and fistula are present in corpus Hippocratica. The body of  writing attributed to Hippocrates, the Hippocratic Corpus, is a collection of roughly 70 works that show no uniformity in teaching or in prose style. With a few exceptions, the dates of these works range between 450 and 350 BC. They are the oldest surviving complete medical books. Corpus contains concepts about acute diseases, epidemics and regimens. Hippocratic oath is one of the parts of the corpus. Galen, a Greek physician, was the first to do anatomical dissection of cadavers. He had done a lot of experiments on animal and conducted cataract surgery.

Modern Period

1514–1564: Andreas Vesalius, born in Brussels, professor of anatomy and surgery at Padua in Italy, published his first anatomy text called Fabrica.

(This was possible because of printing press.) He emphasised for the first time that anatomy can be learnt only by dissecting human body not animal body He was the first to put forth the concept of ‘hands-on’ education. Knowledge of anatomy strengthened surgery.

1510–1590: Ambroise Pare was trained as barber surgeon. He served in the military of France as army surgeon. He played the major role of updating old fashioned surgery and concepts. He represented the severing of the final link between surgical thought and techniques of the ancient and push towards modern era. He innovated the use of turpentine oil in gun shot wound dressings. He felt that individual vessels should be ligated rather than mass ligation for amputations. He always said, “I treated him. God cured him”.

1728–1793: John Hunter was a surgeon, anatomist, physiologist, pathologist and experimentalist (Key Box 1.1). He is described as the father of modern science of surgery. He was considered to be one of the most influentia l surgeons of all times. He was Scottish.


Updated: November 1, 2020 — 3:03 pm

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