Sushruta

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Overview

Sushruta (also spelt Susruta or Sushrutha) (c. 6th century BC) was the first surgeon in the world who lived in ancient India and is the author of the book Sushruta Samhita, in which he describes over 120 surgical instruments, 300 surgical procedures and classifies human surgery in 8 categories. He lived and taught and practiced his art on the banks of the Ganga in the area that corresponds to the present day city of Varanasi in North India.

In the Sushruta school, the first person to expound Āyurvedic knowledge was Dhanvantari who then taught it to Divodasa who, in turn, taught it to Sushruta, Aupadhenava, Aurabhra, Paushakalāvata, Gopurarakshita, and Bhoja.

Because of his seminal and numerous contributions to the science and art of surgery he is also known by the title "Father of Surgery." Much of what is known about this inventive surgeon is contained in a series of volumes he authored, which are collectively known as the Susrutha Samhita. 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. Susrutha is also the father of Plastic Surgery and Cosmetic Surgery since his technique of forehead flap rhinoplasty (repairing the disfigured nose with a flap of skin from the forehead),that he used to reconstruct noses that were amputated, is practiced almost unchanged in technique to this day. The Susrutha Samhita contains the first known description of several operations, including the uniting of bowel, the removal of the prostate gland, the removal of cataract lenses and the draining of abscesses. Susrutha was also the first surgeon to advocate the practice of operations on inanimate objects such as watermelons, clay plots and reeds; thus predating the modern practice of the surgical workshop by half a millennium.

Sushruta was also a notable teacher. He told his pupils that one could become a good physician only if one knew both theory and practice. He advised his pupils to use carcases and models for practice before surgery.In addition to classifying worms that infect the human body, leeches for bloodletting, medicinal herbs, alkalies and metals, Sushruta gave a vague classification of animals.

References

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