Surgery Factors Across Time

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Religion - they believed in natural and supernatural causes. Natural eg setting broken bones in clay,
supernatural eg trephining to release evil spirits.
Ancient Egypt:
Technology - new metal tools made surgery more successful.
Religion/Dissection - embalming for the afterlife gave them knowledge of the human anatomy, they
knew all the major organs but not their functions. No dissection meant they got things wrong though.
They believed in Metu (channels in the body) that could be blocked with wehedu (bad substances).
Ancient Greece:
Individuals - Erasistratus discovered the heart was a pump and pumped blood around the body.
Herophilus discovered that the brain controls the body, the difference between veins and arteries,
and the importance of the pulse. He also identified different parts of the stomach.
Science and Technology - draining the lungs for pneumonia, wounds were washed with wine and
vinegar. Steel and iron equipment meant operations were more successful.
Ancient Rome:
Individuals/Scientific methods - Galen proved the brain controls the body and nervous system, using
the pig experiment. He believed blood flowed through the septum (wall in the heart). NO HUMAN
DISSECTION so he got many things wrong, but he did realise that human and animal anatomies were
Science and Technology - Amputations more frequent and successful due to better equipment.
Opium used as a painkiller and turpentine used to clean wounds.
Society - tending gladiators meant surgeons learnt a lot about the anatomy.
The Dark Ages:
War - loss of knowledge from Greek and Roman times.
The Middle Ages:
Religion - Islam didn't allow dissection because they believed the Qur'an had all the answers. Both
Christianity and Islam wouldn't accept new ideas that went against the work of Hippocrates and
Government - dissection banned until late middle ages and then it was only used to demonstrate the
work of Galen.
The Renaissance:
Scientific Methods - Vesalius proved Galen wrong, proving that the lower jaw is one bone not two,
and that blood can't flow through holes in the septum because there aren't any holes. 'The Fabric of
the Human Body' contained detailed anatomical drawings of the human body. Harvey proved the
heart is a pump and pumps blood around the body, also discovered the difference between veins
and arteries. DISSECTION.
War - Pare created a new ointment out of rose oil, turpentine and egg whites instead of cauterising
wounds with hot oil. He also created ligatures to prevent blood loss after an amputation but this
sometimes spread disease.
Technology ­ Harvey (by understanding the pump and the invention of the printing press) and
Vesalius (printing press)
Chance ­ Pare (it was by chance that he ran out of hot oil)
Individuals ­ Vesalius, Pare and Harvey.

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Science and Technology - Rontgen invents X-Ray in 1895. Simpson developed chloroform, first
effective anaesthetic (after laughing gas and ether), and Semmelweis made washing hands
compulsory in maternity wards. Lister developed carbolic spray to limit infection. Halsted moved
towards aseptic surgery by introducing caps, gloves, masks and gowns.
Individuals ­ Rontgen, Simpson, Semmelweis, Lister and Halsted
20th Century:
Technology - mini fibre optic cameras, new scanners, computers and lasers led to keyhole surgery.
They discovered how to transport blood without it separating.…read more


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