Surgical history

November 19, 2007 § Leave a comment

“The Operation” (1929)I’m very fascinated with surgery. When you spend a lot of time in operating rooms I guess you can’t help getting either nauseated or fascinated by the craft.

One of the most fascinating aspects of surgery is its history. Some of the operations that’s still around today, were also conducted several hundred years ago. One of the most ancients operations we know about is the removal of bladder stones. The oldest bladder stone specimen found is dated at about 4800 BC.

It’s both interesting and horrifying to read about the surgical treatment of tumors in the seventeenth century. Ages before the invention of anesthesia and aseptic techniques.

The history of surgery is full of great inventions and ideas, but the basics are still mostly the same: hands with steel tools manipulating human tissue. That’s what makes it such a fascinating subject.

Recommended reading
Here’s some interesting texts on the subject if you want to start reading:

Wikipedia has a fairly good brief overview of surgical history.

Harold Ellis’ book “A History of Surgery” is an entertaining and informative read. Covers everything from ancient times to the present, with chapters dedicated to specific fields of surgery, such as war surgery and orthopaedic surgery.

Dr. Ira M. Rutkow, one of the foremost American historians of surgery, writes a regular column for the journal Archives of Surgery. “Moments in surgical history” are one-pagers about significant or special operations and inventions. If you work in a hospital you’ll probably be able to access these for free.

Happy history dissection!

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