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|"Surgery is the first and the highest division of the healing art, pure in itself, perpetual in its applicability, a working product of heaven and sure of fame on earth" - Sushruta (400 B.C.)|
Although surgeons are now considered to be specialised physicians, the profession of surgeon and that of physician have different historical roots. For example, the Hippocratic Oath warns physicians against practicing surgery which was to be left to specialized craftsmen.
Among the first surgeons were battlefield doctors in the Napoleonic Wars who were primarily concerned with amputation. Naval surgeons were often barber-surgeons, who combined surgery with their main jobs as barbers.
Through the study of paleopathology and recovery of bones of prehistoric man, it is evident that diseases similar to those of the present time, were also prevalent. There is ample proof from recovered skulls that different methods were employed in trephining as treatment for headaches, epilepsy, etc. The purpose was to permit the "devil" causing the disease to escape. Surgical instruments were made of sharpened stones and flint. Further knowledge on the subject of surgery is derived from scripts written during respective periods. Surgery, however, was practised in a very limited manner. During the Roman period, frequent wars gave an impetus to war surgery, particularly to trauma surgery.
History of surgery can be divided into three eras ( click on the following for further reading):