Surgeons in ancient times undertook diverse operations, usually at great speed to diminish the duration of suffering. Skulls from 5,000 BCE show trephination, the removal of a piece of bone from the head. Egyptians in 3,600 BCE performed circumcisions and tracheotomies. In 1700 BCE, Babylonians excised tumors. Egyptians cauterized breast tumors and excised peripheral aneurysms. The Roman surgeon, Galen, in the second Century CE, treated cataracts to restore sight, and he cut out the uvula to cure chronic coughing. Surgeons in Europe might be physicians, monks or barbers who in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries wrote books on surgery. They gained recognition by their study of the anatomy of cadavers. Thus, in 1543 Vesalius published “On the Fabric of the Human Body”, demolishing centuries of errors, and opening the door to the performance of accurate surgery.
KeywordsAnesthesia before 1798 History of anesthesia Surgery before anesthesia Ancient use of anesthesia Egyptian and Greek surgical practices
The authors appreciate the editorial suggestions made by Ms. Shawnee Shahroody Spitler.
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