30 Sep Surgery In Ancient India
Medical Science was one area were surprising advances had been made in ancient times in India. Specifically, these advances were in the areas of plastic surgery, extraction of cataracts, dental surgery, etc., These are not just tall claims. There is documentary evidence to prove the existence of these practices.
Shushruta, known as the father of surgery, practiced his skill as early as 600 BCE. He used cheek skin to perform plastic surgery to restore or reshape the nose, ears, and lips with incredible results. Modern plastic surgery acknowledges his contributions by calling this method of rhinoplasty as the Indian method.
Sushruta who lived nearly 150 years before Hippocrates vividly described the basic principles of plastic surgery in his famous ancient treatise ‘Sushruta Samhita’
‘Sushruta Samhita'(Sushruta’s compendium) which is one of the oldest treatise dealing with surgery in the world indicates that he was probably the first surgeon to perform plastic surgical operations. This paper presents a historical window into various contributions of Sushruta to plastic surgery and allied fields which were described in ‘Sushruta Samhita’ more than 2500 years ago.
Although many people consider Plastic Surgery as a relatively new specialty, the origin of the plastic surgery had his roots more than 4000 years old in India, back to the Indus River Civilization. The mythical-religious shlokas (hymns) associated with this civilization were compiled in the Sanskrit language between 3000 and 1000 B.C. in the form of Vedas, the oldest sacred books of the Hindu religion. This era is referred to as the Vedic period (5000 years B.C) in Indian history during which the four Vedas, namely the Rigveda, the Samaveda, the Yajurveda, and the Atharvaveda were compiled.
“The Hindus (Indians) were so advanced in surgery that their instruments could cut a hair longitudinally”: MRS Plunket
125 Types Of Surgical Instruments
Shushruta worked with 125 kinds of surgical instruments, which included scalpels, lancets, needles, catheters, rectal speculums, mostly conceived from jaws of animals and birds to obtain the necessary grips. He also defined various methods of stitching: the use of horse’s hair, fine thread, fibers of bark, goat’s guts and ant’s heads.
300 Different Operations
Shushruta describes the details of more than 300 operations and 42 surgical processes. In his compendium Shushruta Samhita he minutely classifies surgery into 8 types:
Aharyam = extracting solid bodies
Bhedyam = excision
Chhedyam = incision
Aeshyam = probing
Lekhyam = scarification
Vedhyam = puncturing
Visraavyam = evacuating fluids
Sivyam = suturing
The ancient Indians were also the first to perform an amputation, cesarean surgery, and cranial surgery.
For rhinoplasty, Shushruta first measured the damaged nose, skilfully sliced off skin from the cheek and sutured the nose. He then placed medicated cotton pads to heal the operation.
During the 8 th century A.D., the Sushruta Samhita was translated into Arabic by a person known as Ibn Abillsaibial. This Arabic translation, known as the Kitab Shah Shun al-Hindi or the Kitab i-Susurud , eventually made its way to Europe by the end of the medieval period. In Renaissance Italy, the Branca family of Sicily, and the Bolognese doctor, Gasparo Tagliacozzi, were familiar with the surgical techniques found in the Sushruta Samhita .
By Prachodayat Team