, Volume 25, Issue 9, pp 1043-1044
Date: 28 Nov 2008

Surgical scalpel used in the treatment of “infantile hydrocephalus” by Al Zahrawi (936–1013 a.d.)

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Hydrocephalus is a term derived from the Greek words “hydro” and “cephalus” meaning water and head, respectively; therefore, this condition is generally named as “water on the brain” [5]. It was first described by the ancient Greek physicians Hippocrates (5th century B.C.), the father of medicine, and Galen (130–200 a.d.) as a disease caused by an extraaxial accumulation of water rather than enlargement of the ventricles [3, 5]. For the treatment of hydrocephalic children, surgical evacuation of superficial intracranial fluid was first described by the Muslim surgeon Abu al-Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbas Al-Zahrawi (936–1013 a.d.), the father of surgery, known in the western medical literature as Abulcasis or Albucasis (Fig. 1) [3, 4, 6]. He lived and practiced surgery and medicine in the city of Al Zahra, the capital of Al Andalus in the 10th century [4]. He was the personal physician to Abd Al-Rahman III, the Andalusian caliph who built Medinat Al Zahrah, and to his son and successor Al h ...