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Saudi Med J. 2006 Nov;27(11):1631-41.

Contributions of Muhadhdhab Al-Deen Al-Baghdadi to the progress of medicine and urology. A study and translations from his book Al-Mukhtar.

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  • 1Division of Urology, Department of Surgery 37, King Khalid University Hospital, PO Box 7805, Riyadh 11472, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


This study of the Arabic 4-volume book of Al-Mukhtar Fi Al-Tibb (Choice Book on Medicine) written by the Muslim physician Muhadhdhab Al-Deen Al-Baghdadi (515-610 H, 1117-1213 AD) aimed at evaluating his contributions to the progress of medicine and urology along with providing English translations of relevant excerpts. Al-Baghdadi laid emphasis on the morals of medical practice and the principles of medical education describing how to select medical students and how to evaluate graduates. He stressed on the need for a long training program directly supervised by skilled expert doctors both in hospitals (Al-Bimaristanat) and during home visits. A good part of volume 1 was allocated to preventive medicine and the whole of volume 2 was devoted to the pharmacy section, which he restricted to what was proven by the experience of his teacher and by his own experiments. Same as all his predecessors in the Islamic era, Al-Baghdadi stressed the importance of clinical medicine and gave more details related to history taking, physical examination, differential diagnosis and prognosis. Similar to them, he also, emphasized that a doctor should be quite knowledgeable in anatomy. Furthermore, the presence of anatomical drawings in Kitab Al-Mukhtar Fi Al-Tibb is a further step forward in illustrating medical text books; a trend that flourished in the Islamic era reflecting the role of direct observations and experience. The detailed description of the functional anatomy of the uretero-vesical junction and the antireflux and micturition mechanisms given by Al-Baghdadi is contrary to that of Galen (130-200 AD) but conforms well to our contemporary understanding. In the conservative management of urinary stones, he described 70 simple and 13 compound drugs while those described by Pulus of Aegina (625-690 AD) were only 20 simple and 3 compound drugs. Furthermore, Al-Baghdadi's description of the instruments and techniques of urethral catheterization, perineal cystolithotomy and perineal cystolithotripsy using Al-Zahrawi's lithotrite is meticulous and reveals originality, dexterity and experience.

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