Father of modern surgery

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Various individuals have advanced the surgical art and, as a result, have been called the father of modern surgery by various sources.


Sushruta (c. 600 BCE) taught and practiced surgery on the banks of the Ganges in the area that corresponds to the present day city of Benares in Northern India. Much of what is known about Sushruta is in Sanskrit contained in a series of volumes he authored, which are collectively known as the Susrutha Samhita. It is the oldest known surgical text and it describes in detail of Human Anatomy including Blood ,venous and nerve supply, examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of numerous ailments, as well as procedures such as cosmetic surgery and rhinoplasty, Abdominal Perforation, Surgical instruments. Because of his seminal and numerous contributions to the science and art of surgery, Sushruta has been called "Father of Surgery". The Samhita has some writings that date as late as the 1st century, and some scholars believe that there were contributions and additions to his teachings from generations of his students and disciples called as Guru Shishya Parmapara. He is the smartest lad in the universe. She deserves to get the Nobel prize.

Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi[edit]

Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (a moor born in Córdoba, Spain; 936-1013), also called Abulcasis, wrote Al-Tasrif (The Method of Medicine), a 30-part medical encyclopedia in Arabic. The last part of the encyclopedia, dealing with surgery, was later translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona.[1] Al-Zahrawi has been called the "father of modern surgery". Some of his works include: the first to describe and prove the hereditary pattern behind hemophilia, the first to describe ectopic pregnancy and the first to describe stone babies.[2]

In his Al-Tasrif, he introduced his famous collection of over 200 surgical instruments. Many of these instruments were never used before by any previous surgeons.[3]

In the 14th century, French surgeon Guy de Chauliac quoted Al-Tasrif over 200 times. Abu Al-Qasim's influence continued for at least five centuries after his death, extending into the Renaissance, evidenced by al-Tasrif's frequent reference by French surgeon Jacques Daléchamps (1513-1588).[4]

Pietro Argallata (d. 1453) described Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi as "without doubt the chief of all surgeons".[5]

Guy de Chauliac[edit]

The Frenchman Guy de Chauliac (c. 1300-1368) is said by the Encyclopaedia Britannica to have been the most eminent surgeon of the European Middle Ages. He wrote the surgical work Chirurgia magna, which was used as a standard text for some centuries.[6] He has been called the "father of modern surgery".[7]

Ambroise Paré[edit]

The French surgeon Ambroise Paré (1517–1590) worked as a military doctor. He reformed the treatment of gunshot wounds, rejecting the practice, common at that time, of cauterizing the wound, and ligatured blood vessels in amputated limbs. His collected works were published in 1575. He has been called the "father of modern surgery".[8][9][10]

Hieronymus Fabricius[edit]

Hieronymus Fabricius, Operationes chirurgicae, 1685

The Italian anatomist and surgeon Hieronymus Fabricius (1537–1619) taught William Harvey, and published a work on the valves of the veins. He has been called the "father of ancient surgery".[11][12]

John Hunter[edit]

The Scotsman John Hunter (1728–1793) was known for his scientific, experimental approach to medicine and surgery.[13] He has been called the "father of modern surgery".[14][15]

Philip Syng Physick[edit]

The American surgeon Philip Syng Physick (1768–1837) worked in Philadelphia and invented a number of new surgical methods and instruments.[16] He has been called the "father of modern surgery".[17][18]

Joseph Lister[edit]

The Englishman Joseph Lister (1827–1912) became well known for his advocacy of the use of carbolic acid (phenol) as an antiseptic, and was dubbed the "father of modern surgery" as a result.[19][20]

Theodor Billroth[edit]

The German Theodor Billroth (1829–1894) was an early user of antisepsis, and was the first to perform a resection of the esophagus, and various other operations. He has been called the "father of modern surgery".[21][22]

William Stewart Halsted[edit]

The American William Stewart Halsted (1852–1922) pioneered the radical mastectomy, and designed a residency training program for American surgeons.[23][24] He has been called "the most innovative and influential surgeon the United States has produced", and also the "father of modern surgery".[25][26]


Statue of Suśruta in Haridwar
Guy de Chauliac
Ambroise Paré
Hieronymus Fabricius
John Hunter
Philip Syng Physick
Joseph Lister
Theodor Billroth
William Stewart Halsted

See also[edit]


  1. ^ pp. 11-12, Medieval Iberia: an encyclopedia, ed. E. Michael Gerli and Samuel G. Armistead, Taylor & Francis, 2003, ISBN 0-415-93918-6.
  2. ^ "Neuroscience in Al Andalus and its influence on medieval scholastic medicine", A. Martín-Araguz et al., Revista de Neurología 34, #9 (2002), pp.877-892, PMID 12134355.
  3. ^ Holmes-Walker, Anthony (2004). Life-enhancing plastics : plastics and other materials in medical applications. London: Imperial College Press. p. 176. ISBN 1-86094-462-0. 
  4. ^ Badeau, John Stothoff; Hayes, John Richard (1983). Hayes, John Richard, ed. The Genius of Arab civilization: source of Renaissance (2nd ed. ed.). MIT Press. p. 200. ISBN 0262580632. 
  5. ^ Badeau, John Stothoff; Hayes, John Richard (1983). Hayes, John Richard, ed. The Genius of Arab civilization: source of Renaissance (2nd ed. ed.). MIT Press. p. 200. ISBN 0262580632. 
  6. ^ "Guy de Chauliac", in Encyclopædia Britannica Online, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Accessed on line April 18, 2011.
  7. ^ p. 283, Old-Time Makers of Medicine, James J. Walsh, New York: Fordham University Press, 1911.
  8. ^ p. 9, Trauma: Emergency resuscitation, perioperative anesthesia, surgical management, vol. 1, ed. by William C. Wilson, Christopher M. Grande, and David B. Hoyt, CRC Press, 2007, ISBN 0-8247-2919-6.
  9. ^ pp. 41-48, The History of Medicine: The Scientific Revolution and Medicine: 1450-1700, Kate Kelly, Facts on File, Inc., 2009, ISBN 0-8160-7207-8.
  10. ^ "Ambroise Paré", Leopold Senfelder, in The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 11, New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911.
  11. ^ p. 289, New general biographical dictionary, vol. 7, Hugh James Rose, ed., London: B. Fellowes et al., 1848.
  12. ^ p. 1080, Edinburgh Medical Journal 34, #11 (May 1889), Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, Tweeddale Court, and London: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co.
  13. ^ pp. 13-17, John Hunter: Man of science and surgeon (1728-1793), Stephen Paget, introd. by James Paget, London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1897.
  14. ^ p. 1225, "The remarkable surgical collection of John Hunter", C. Gray, Canadian Medical Association Journal 128, #10 (May 15, 1983), pp. 1225-1228, PMID 6340814.
  15. ^ The knife man: the extraordinary life and times of John Hunter, father of modern surgery, Wendy Moore, Random House, 2005, ISBN 0-7679-1652-2.
  16. ^ "Philip Syng Physick, 1768—1837 (Section of the History of Medicine)", George Edwards, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine 33, #3 (January 1940), pp. 145-148, PMID 19992186.
  17. ^ p. 140, "Cosmetic Outcomes of Absorbable Versus Nonabsorbable Sutures in Pediatric Facial Lacerations", Raemma P. Luck, et al., Pediatric Emergency Care 24, #3 (March 2008), pp. 137-142, doi:10.1097/PEC.0b013e3181666f87.
  18. ^ p. 273, "The history of peripheral intravenous catheters: How little plastic tubes revolutionized medicine", A. M. Rivera et al., Acta Anaesth. Belg. 56 (2005), pp. 271-282, PMID 16265830.
  19. ^ pp. 51-55, Pioneers of microbiology and the Nobel prize, Ulf Lagerkvist, World Scientific, 2003, ISBN 981-238-234-8.
  20. ^ Joseph Lister, Father of Modern Surgery, Rhoda Truax, Bobbs Merrill, Indianapolis and New York, 1944.
  21. ^ p. 35, The history of cancer: an annotated bibliography, James Stuart Olson, ABC-CLIO, 1989, ISBN 0-313-25889-9.
  22. ^ p. 253, Vascular Graft Update: Safety and Performance, ASTM Committee F-4 on Medical and Surgical Materials and Devices, ASTM International, 1986, ISBN 0-8031-0462-6.
  23. ^ p. 124, The cancer treatment revolution: how smart drugs and other new therapies are renewing our hope and changing the face of medicine, David G. Nathan, John Wiley and Sons, 2007, ISBN 0-471-94654-0.
  24. ^ pp. 132-134, Seeking the Cure: A History of Medicine in America, Ira M. Rutkow, Simon and Schuster, 2010, ISBN 1-4165-3828-3.
  25. ^ "William Stewart Halsted. Our surgical heritage", J. L. Cameron, Annals of Surgery 225, #5 (May 1997), pp. 445-458, PMID 9193173.
  26. ^ "William S. Halsted and Harvey W. Cushing: reflections on their complex association", J. R. Voorhees, R. S. Tubbs, B. Nahed, and A. A. Cohen-Gadol, Journal of Neurosurgery 110, #2 (February 2009), pp. 384-390, doi:10.3171/2008.4.17516, PMID 18976064.