Medicine Through Time: Surgery and Anatomy

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  • Created by: Nuha
  • Created on: 11-06-12 11:51

Surgery and Anatomy Through Time

Prehistory- Trepanning was a common technique used in surgery at this time to relieve the body of evil spirits which were thought to cause disease. There is evidence to suggest that the skull did heal as it continued to grow after it had been drilled into. This shows that perhaps the people who did the surgery were fairly skilled in knowing that they should not damage the brain. Surgical tools would have been very basic, things like sharp rocks would have been used to make incisions. 

Ancient Egypt- Mummification led to increased anatomical knowledge as people were able to see the organs that they took out of the body during this religious ceremony. Despite this only small cuts were made to take the organs out because they wanted to minimise scarring and so in actual fact it would have been the case that they couldn't examine the organ as a whole to see what it was about. Perhaps if the Egyptians had been able to examine the organs as a whole they would of had an increased anatomical knowledge. Due to metal workers, tools for surgery did improve greatly to improve the precision and skill involved in surgical operations. People were able to write on Papyrus and this allowed them to improve their knowledge as they could communicate with other doctors. The Nile bought in The Theory of the Blocked Channels and the Egyptians believed in 'wehdu' which was basically waste substance travelling in the blood; this included air and water but also faeces, tears, saliva and urine. They believed that if there was an imbalance in 'wehdu' then this was cause disease and so the patient would possibly need to be operated on. There is evidence to suggest that bandages may have been used on wounds, although at the time it would not have been known that this would reduce infection but it may just have been a method deployed to stop blood from pouring out. Supernatural causes were used to explain the cause of disease and so surgery would have been centred around taking out the evil spirits in a person's body or unblocking the channels.

Ancient Greece- The Theory of The Four Humours, as proposed by Hippocrates dominated theories in how the body works for a very long time. This meant that surgical procedures and treatments revolved around maintaining and restoring the imbalance in the humours. To some people this meant bleeding, sometimes it could also mean purging. Hippocratic doctors, who were the doctors who charged, would base their operations around this theory. Tools improved and this aided with the precision and skill involved with surgery. The university in Alexandria allowed dissections and this meant that people could gain a better knowledge of the anatomy and how the body works; after all to know what is in the body you need to be able to see the organs etc.. Other operations included draining the lungs for patients who were suffering from pneumonia, it is unclear how exactly this was done but we can certainly see where it could easily go wrong. Amputations were common and…




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