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Evolution Of Surgery Before The Common Era

2021 words - 9 pages

Without surgery and advanced medicine in the 21st century, many lives would be lost to preventable medical conditions and infectious disease. If one was to ask every person who walked down a street in an hour time period, most would say they have had some type of surgery in their lifetime. Surgery has evolved since prehistoric medicine. Looking at surgery from before the common era, research has turned to sources such as skeletons, cave painting, or artifacts (Dobanovacki, et al 28). Trephination is the oldest known surgery. It was used to release the spirit within individuals who were suffering from epilepsy, mental disease, and headaches (Dobanovacki, et al 28). Circumcision and the ...view middle of the document...

The tools that were used for surgery in the different areas of the world showed some similarity, but also some differences can be noted. This wealth of medical knowledge was spread through generations because it is increased into oral databases (Dobanovacki, et al 29). “This short overview of the development of surgery points out the major milestone in the several millennia long history of medicine and surgery before the common era presenting as author’s critical compilation from the sources listed in references” (Dobanovacki, et al 28). Through the different civilizations, surgery evolved more and more, and there was a direct link in between some civilizations’ advances, which eventually developed into Roman surgery, which had a profound impact on today’s surgical practices.
In Mesopotamia, much of the information regarding medicine is from cuneiform clay tablets that are from the library of king Asshurbanipal (Dobanovacki, et al 29). They were organized into separate sections. These sections included surgery, gynecology, and pediatrics (Dobanovacki, et al 29). There are four surviving clay tablets that describe many of the surgical procedures. One of the procedures was describing when the doctor cuts into the chest in order to drain pus from the pleura (Dobanovacki, et al 29). There is also mentioning of a knife being scraped on the skull, the use of plants to stop bleeding, surgical wound care, and the use of sesame oil as an anti-bacterial agent for use on dressings (Dobanovacki, et al 29). Infection control is an important part of today’s healthcare and money is lost by hospitals every year due to hospital acquired infections. In 3500 B.C.E., Mesopotamia had already discovered the need for anti-bacterial agents and was beginning to understand how infections originated and how they could be handled.
The physicians in Mesopotamia were well respected and were held to an extremely high standard. Much of the information about the physicians is written in the Law Code of Hammurabi (Dobanovacki, et al 29). It describes the many different surgeries that physicians performed, but also how liable the doctors were. “These laws state that the doctor was responsible for surgical errors and failures depending on the status of his patient,” (Dobanovacki, et al 29). Interestingly, if the doctor saved the life of someone who was of high status, he was paid extremely well. If he only saved the life of a slave, he received very little payment. If a person of high status died, this physician could have his hand cut off, while if a slave died, he only had to replace the slave (Dobanovacki, et al 29). Most healthcare was performed within the home in Mesopotamia, and more than likely, the family was the primary caregiver. There also is a link to rivers in Mesopotamia medicine. The Mesopotamians believed that rivers could force healing by carrying away the evil substances that were trapped within bodies (Dobanovacki, et al 29). ...

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