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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
  • ‘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

American Scientists Design Adhesive Gel to Repair Eye Injury Without Surgery

The researchers expected to start clinical trials to test the technology in human patients in approximately one year

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The study showed that people with migraine had a 20 per cent higher risk of having dry eye disease, the HealthDay reported. Pixabay

American scientists have designed an adhesive gel that can seal wound or ulcers on the surface of the eye, thus sparing the need for eye surgery.

The study published on Wednesday in the journal “Science Advances” showed that the gel packed with light-activated chemicals can not only close the defect but also regenerate it, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We wanted this material to allow the cells of the cornea to mesh with the adhesive and to regenerate over time to mimic something as close to the native cornea as possible,” said the paper’s co-corresponding author Reza Dana, a professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.

The gel is clear and viscous in a dropper or syringe, but when exposed to blue light in a short time, it hardens to take on features of a native cornea, and the the cornea cells gradually grow into and become one with the gel, according to the study.

The gel is the first to use visible blue light as opposed to ultraviolet light, which carries a level of toxicity.

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Representational image. Pixabay

In a preclinical study, the researchers administered the gel at 20 per cent concentration to corneal defects of 3 mm, and applied visible light for four minutes, leading to a firm adhesion to the defect.

One day later, they observed a transparent, smooth eye surface without inflammation. Over time, the tissue regenerated and the new tissue showed few differences with the native one, according to the study.

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The researchers expected to start clinical trials to test the technology in human patients in approximately one year.

Corneal injuries are a common cause of visual impairment worldwide, with more than 1.5 million new cases of corneal blindness reported every year. Some of them require corneal transplants that carry risks of post-transplant complications like infection or rejection. (IANS)