most famous surgeon in Al-Andalus was the 10th century
physician and author, Abul Qasim Khalaf Ibn Al-Abbas Al-Zahrawi
(936-1013 CE). Al-Zahrawi was known to Europeans in Latin as
Albucasis, and his surgical work was translated and widely
used, being printed and used in medical schools even
centuries later. The Latin text at right shows illustrations
of metal surgical instruments. It was translated at Toledo
by the famous translator Gerard of Cremona.
Al-Zahrawi described many surgical cures for diseases,
designed instruments, and wrote about techniques surgeons
wounds by burning), closing wounds
bloodletting and bone-setting, and the proper way to conduct
amputations when necessary. He was a pioneer in surgery for
the eye, ear, and throat, including a device for cutting out
infected tonsils that caught the tonsil in a basket so that
it would not fall down the throat of the patient. He also
wrote about midwifery and obstetrics -- aiding women in
instruments were designed to be efficient, specialized for
particular types of surgery, and helpful in preventing
patients from being frightened. For example, he designed a
hidden knife for opening infected wounds so that frightened
patients would not see it.
is evidence that Muslim surgeons used anesthetics, both in
the form of pain-killers given by mouth, and a sponge soaked
with substances that were placed under the nose of the
patient to make him or her less sensitive to pain.
Otherwise, surgery was an ordeal that often required the
patient to be held steady by more than one person.
“Islamic Culture and the Medical Arts,” National Library of
Medicine. Retrieved at
Lunde. “Science in Al-Andalus,”
Aramco World Magazine,
Al-Andalus Special Issue reprint, pp. 24-25.
Medieval Islam: an Illustrated Introduction.
University of Texas Press, 1995.
translation of al-Zahrawi retrieved at
and Ibn al-Nafis,
Key to the Mujiz,
showing a diagram of the way the eyes function retrieved
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