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Father of Surgery: Was Sushruta the First Plastic Surgeon in 600 B.C.?

One of the highlights of Sushruta's surgery is the operation of Rhinoplasty or the making of a new nose

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Sushruta. Image source: surgicaltreatmentsinayurveda.blogspot.com
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  • ‘Sushruta Samhita’ which translates to Sushruta’s compendium describes the ancient tradition of surgery in Indian medicine
  • It not only contains the teaching regarding plastic surgery but also the composite teachings of the surgery and all the allied branches including midwifery
  • One of the highlights of Sushruta’s surgery is the operation of Rhinoplasty or the making of a new nose

The restoration, reconstruction, and alteration of the human body is not something that has popped up in the recent years. Cosmetic or aesthetic surgery, reconstructive surgery and the treatment of burns has its roots more than 4000-year-old in India, back to the Indus River Civilization . It is believed that plastic surgery originated in the Vedic period (5000 years B.C) and Sushruta Samhita, which is a part of Atharvaveda (one of the four Vedas) is believed to be the first surgical text.

‘Sushruta Samhita’ which translates to Sushruta’s compendium describes the ancient tradition of surgery in Indian medicine. This treatise contains detailed descriptions of teachings and practice of the great ancient surgeon Sushruta, mentioned ispub.com Website.

Considered  to be the most advanced compilation of surgical practices of its time, ‘Sushruta Samhita’ not only contains the teaching regarding plastic surgery but also the composite teachings of the surgery and all the allied branches including ‘midwifery’. Giving priority to the knowledge of both surgery and medicine, he compares a doctor not proficient in both of them to a bird with only one wing.

Sushruta said, “Anyone, who wishes to acquire a thorough knowledge of anatomy, must prepare a dead body and carefully observe and examine all its parts.” Accordingly, a body is to be submerged in water and allowed to decompose. Every stage of decomposition is meant to be studied carefully and examined, layer by layer. It is to be noted that during those times, dissection was performed without using instruments.

Sushruta Samhita. Image source: www.ancient-origins.net
Representational Image. Image source: www.ancient-origins.net

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‘Sushruta Samhita’ was first published in Europe by Hessler in Latin and by Muller in German, in the early 19th century. The first complete English translation was done by Kaviraj Kunja Lal Bhishagratna in three volumes in 1907 at Calcutta.

The Internet Scientific Publications Website mentioned that in the book ‘Sushruta Samhita’, the insight, accuracy, and detail of the surgical descriptions are most impressive. All the 184 chapters and the 1,120 conditions listed in them, include various medical explanations and treatment procedures ranging from injuries and illnesses relating to ageing and mental illness. The compendium of Sushruta includes many chapters on the training and practice of surgeons. The Sushruta Samhita also describes over 120 surgical instruments.

The ancient surgical science was known as Salya-tantra (surgical science) embraces all processes aiming at the removal of factors responsible for producing pain or misery to the body or mind. Salya (salya-surgical instrument) denotes broken parts of an arrow /other sharp weapons while tantra denotes maneuver. Sushruta has described surgery under eight heads Chedya (excision), Lekhya (scarification), Vedhya (puncturing), Esya (exploration), Ahrya (extraction), Vsraya (evacuation) and Sivya (Suturing).

Shushruta Statue, Haridwar Image Source: Wikipedia Commons
Shushruta Statue, Haridwar Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

One of the highlights of Sushruta’s surgery is the operation of Rhinoplasty or the making of a new nose. This grabbed the attention of the medical world and brought him fame as the originator of plastic surgery. The Indian Rhinoplasty today, is just a modification of the ancient Rhinoplasty described by Sushruta in 600 B.C. Even today pedicled forehead flap is referred to as the Indian flap.

Talking about Sushruta, the eminent surgeon Allen Oldfather Whipple (1881-1963), 20th century’s major innovator in pancreatic surgery said,  “All in all, Susruta must be considered the greatest surgeon of the pre-medieval period.”

The marvels and brilliance of Sushruta is recognised by many people across the globe. His texts are reefed even today by many great minds. He is regarded as the ‘Father of Indian Surgery’ and the ‘Father of Indian Plastic Surgery’ because of his numerous seminal contributions to the science and art of surgery in India.

– prepared by NewsGram team.

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  • Akanksha Sharma

    So many discoveries were made in ancient India. In science and mathematics India has contributed a lot.

Next Story

Vatican Children’s Hospital Carries Out A Pioneering Surgery On a 30-month-old

Surgeons performing a laparoscopy have an extremely detailed picture of the patient's anatomy, allowing more precise incisions with a lower risk of bleeding.

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Toddler receives mother's kidney, part of liver in pioneering transplant. Pixabay

Surgeons at the Vatican children’s hospital in Rome have carried out a pioneering surgery in which a Lebanese woman’s kidney and part of her liver were transplanted in her 30-month-old son, who suffers from a rare metabolic disorder.

Doctors at the Bambin Gesu hospital performed path-breaking laparoscopic surgery on the left side of the woman’s liver and on her kidney.

The boy, named Danil, suffers from primary hyperoxaluria, a severe form of a rare metabolic disease called oxalosis, characterised by the formation of calcium oxalate deposits in organs and tissues.

Oxalosis can cause urinary infections and permanent kidney damage, and in the most severe cases, can stunt the patient’s growth and cause brittle bones that are vulnerable to fractures. It affects one in 100,000-333,000 people.

Surgery
All such patients treated at the Bambin Gesu have had dialysis during surgery and several days afterwards, and all the operations have been successful. Flickr

“This operation could be the first of its kind in the world,” the Bambin Gesu said in a statement.

“We are not aware of previous cases in which laparoscopic surgery has been carried out to transplant the same donor’s liver and kidney one after the other.”

The team at the Bambin Gesu that carried out the laparoscopic transplant in Danil of part his mother’s liver was led by Marco Spada, while the transplant of her kidney to the toddler was spearheaded by Luca dello Strologo.

Laparoscopic surgery to transplant a kidney from a living donor to a recipient is well-established, while the use of the minimally invasive technique for liver transplants is a more recent operation that is only done in the most specialist centres and, in Italy, currently only at the Bambin Gesu.

Surgery
Bambin Gesu hospital , Vatican. Flickr

All such patients treated at the Bambin Gesu have had dialysis during surgery and several days afterwards, and all the operations have been successful, according to the hospital. In the past 24 months, it has performed 32 liver or kidney transplants from living donors and 98 from deceased donors.

Also Read: Exposure to Arsenic, Lead may Spike up Risk of Heart Disease

The advantages of laparoscopy include a significant reduction in surgical trauma which reduces the length of time patients need to spend in hospital, less need for painkilling drugs, a lower risk of postoperative complications and a more rapid return to normal life, according to the experts.

And thanks to high-resolution (3K and 4K) and three-dimensional imaging technology, surgeons performing a laparoscopy have an extremely detailed picture of the patient’s anatomy, allowing more precise incisions with a lower risk of bleeding. (IANS)