It is interesting to note that surgical procedures date back to the prehistoric era. According to the historians, the earliest instance of surgery was most probably trepanation. It is a procedure in which the ancient people used to drill a hole into the skull, in order to expose the dura matter i.e. the outermost membrane covering the brain, so that they could treat the intracranial problems and other health issues. Evidence of surgery has been found in ancient Egypt, India, China and Greece in the form of surgical texts, archaeological evidence, and temples dedicated to medicine and surgery. It is also interesting to note that these Eastern and Middle-Eastern practices had a major influence on early European methods of surgery.
In Europe, the demand for surgery rose even before practicing begun, but gradually, universities started teaching surgery to the medical students. In the 12th century, Rogerius Salernitanus laid the foundation of the modern Western surgical procedures by penning down Chirurgia. Surgery in Europe wasn’t taken seriously initially, with barbers performing surgery at times. But gradually, people realized its value and made it academically available to medical students, from where this field gradually developed.
Before taking its modern form, surgery took great strides during the Age of Enlightenment. A man named John Hunter emerged during this time. He later came to be known as the father of modern surgery. He spent a lot of time researching and experimenting on his own, which proves why he made more progress than the others. He contributed a lot to fields like venereal disease, pathology and the danger of infection spreading. He also introduced a lot of new surgical methods due to the immense knowledge that he gained.
Surprisingly, anesthesia was discovered in the mid-19th century. This is surprising to discover, and what is even more surprising is that these doctors dared to perform surgery without taking any measures to control the pain earlier! Previously patients were rendered senseless somehow or put under the influence of intoxicating substances like alcohol or opium. Before the discovery of anesthesia, doctors tried to minimize the time of surgery and didn’t venture into intricate organs of the body. But the discovery of anesthesia gave them the freedom to perform different kinds of plastic surgery in Virginia, without the fear of hurting the patient too much.