Running head: HISTORY OF SURGERY
HISTORY OF SURGERY
History of Surgery
Nebraska Methodist College
Surgery is the branch of medicine that employs operations in the treatment of disease or injury. Surgery involves cutting, abrading, suturing, or otherwise physically changing body tissues and organs. The word surgery comes from a Greek word meaning, working by hand. Surgery has been around for thousands of years, dating all the way back to ancient Egyptian times. Surgery has a long history in the healing arts, but it was not always as reputable as it is now. Surgery is also no longer the most feared medical procedure. It is thought to be a safe, painless and reliable method to cure us from an illness and many people today have or will go under a surgeon’s knife at some point in their lives, but this was not always the case. With no pain control and the risk of infection, surgery used to be horrific and extremely dangerous experience; many people died on the operating table. It was usually a last resort for bother the patient and the surgeon. As well as patients, surgeons too felt the horror of their practice. In the book Etherization With Surgical Remarks, Dr. John Warren of Massachusetts General Hospital stated,
“What surgeon is there, who has not felt, while witnessing the distress of long painful operations, a sinking of the heart, to which no habit could render him insensible! What surgeon has not in these times been inspired with a wish to find some means of lessening the sufferings he was obliged to inflict!” (p.1).
The first surgical procedure recorded was called Trephination in 6,500 BCE. Trephination is, an act or instance of using a trephine (as to perforate the skull). In other words, it involves drilling or otherwise removing a small piece of bone from the skull without damaging the brain. There are two main purposes for Trephination – medical and mystical. Trephination was and is still used in both ancient and modern times to relieve pressure caused by swelling in the brain as a result of a severe head trauma. Trephination was also used to help release the presence of ‘evil’ spirits trapped within the human body.
From 3000 BCE – 200 A.D., surgery was limited to repairing injuries and bone fractures. Suture, cautery and wound dressings were used to promote healing along with herbs. Anatomical knowledge was limited to bones and major organs. Much knowledge of the human body was learned from the war time, Physicians learned the anatomy of the human body by trying to save the soldiers on the battle field. A notable surgical contribution was made during the 2nd century AD; this was from a Greek physician by the name of or Claudius Galenius, or as the Romans knew him, Galen, his name means peaceful. Galen, dissected animals to familiarize himself with the anatomy of a person since the dissection of a human was considered illegal because the body and spirit were supposed to go to Christ. Galen, trying to perfect Hippocrates’...