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Surg Neurol. 1986 Jul;26(1):92-5.

Al-Zahrawi and Arabian neurosurgery, 936-1013 AD.


The authors highlight the neurosurgical contributions of an Arabic surgeon by the name of Abul-Qasim Al-Zahrawi, known in Western literature as Abulcasis. This man lived during the Middle Ages from 936 to 1013 AD and wrote a 30-volume treatise on medicine. A significant part of his work on surgery consists of early descriptions of neurosurgical diagnosis and treatment, including the surgical treatment of head injuries and skull fractures, spinal injuries and dislocations, hydrocephalus and subdural effusions, headache, and many other medical afflictions. He described neurosurgical instruments such as cranial drills that avoided puncture of the dura mater. Abulcasis is known for his concepts of pain as a symptom and his emphasis on anatomy of the skull and brain in relation to the neurosurgical operations of that period. Because his works were translated from Arabic to Latin, Hebrew, and Turkish with only recent or limited translation into the modern occidental languages, the historic role played by this man has been largely unknown by neurosurgeons who are not fluent in these languages.

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