Islamic medicine notes


Limitations of medieval surgery

Medieval surgery was a risky business for the patient because surgeons...

  • had no idea that dirt carried disease
  • operated without effective painkillers
  • could not help patients with deep wounds to the body
  • sometimes thought pus in a wound was good.

Medieval surgical procedures:

  • Bloodletting - frequently to balance the humours 
  • Amputation - cutting off a painful or damaged part of the body
  • Trepanning - drilling a hole in the skull to "let the demon out" eg for epilepsy
  • Cauterisation - burning a wound to stop the flow of blood using heated iron
  • Natural anaesthetics - mandrake root, opium and hemlock (too much kills patient)

Islamic Medicine

  • 786-809 - Reign of the Caliph Huran Al Rashid: Bagdhad became a centre for translation of Greek manuscripts into Arabic.
  • 805 - Al-Rashid sets up hospital with medical school and library
  • 813-33 - Reign of Caliph al- Mamum…


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