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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Rishi Sushruta: the dawn of medical science by great ancient surgeon

Sushruta was an ancient Indian physician and surgeon who is widely considered to be the “father of surgery”. Sushruta is reverentially held in Hindu tradition to be a descendent of Dhanvantari, the known Bhagwan(god) of medicine or as one who received the knowledge from a discourse from Dhanvantari in Varanasi. He lived in the Indian subcontinent around the 6th century BCE and is credited with writing the Sushruta Samhita, a foundational text in the field of Ayurveda and modern medicine.

His book Sushruta Samhita contains descriptions of over 1,100 surgical procedures and classifies them into 8 categories along with modern alloy surgical tools. It also contains descriptions of various medical instruments and details of surgical techniques, including the use of anaesthesia and post-operative care. Sushruta is also known for his contributions to plastic surgery and for developing the concept of cosmetics surgery.

Has world forgot “Sushruta”?

It is not accurate to say that the world has completely forgotten Sushruta. He is still a respected figure in the field of Medical sciences especially in surgery. In fact, the Sushruta Samhita, the text he wrote, is considered an important work in these fields and is studied by practitioners of Ayurveda and modern surgeons. A statue of Surgeon Sushruta has been installed in the Royal Australia College of Surgeons, Melbourne to inspire upcoming doctors and surgeons.

There are a few reasons why Sushruta may not be as well known as some other historical figures. One reason is that during India’s colonization under Britishers, his contributions were whitewashed. Another reason is that Sushruta lived over 2,000 years ago, and much of the knowledge from this period has been lost to history. Finally, Sushruta lived in ancient India, and the contributions of this part of the world may not be as well known as those of other regions due to India’s political ignorance towards its ancient scientists.

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Sushruta Samhita

The Sushruta Samhita is a Sanskrit text on medicine and surgery that is considered an important work in the field of Ayurvedic Medicine, a powerful traditional system of medicine that originated in India. It is named after the physician Sushruta, who is credited with writing the text. The text is thought to have been written sometime between the 6th and 2nd centuries BCE, although the exact date is uncertain.

It contains descriptions of a wide range of medical conditions, as well as detailed descriptions of surgical procedures and the use of medicinal plants. The text is notable for its comprehensive nature, covering topics such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and more. It is considered an important work in the history of medicine and is still widely studied and referenced today.

Sushruta Samhita has been preserved for many centuries which was exclusively in the Sanskrit language. In the 18th century AD, the great work of Sushruta Samhita was translated into Arabic as ‘Kitab Shah Shun al -Hindi’ and ‘Kitab-I-Susurud.’

The first European translation of Sushruta Samhita was published by Hessler in Latin and in German by Muller in the early 19th century; the complete English literature was done by Kaviraj Kunja Lal Bhishagratna in the three volumes in 1907 in Calcutta.

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Sushruta took surgery in medieval India to admirable heights and that era was later regarded as the ‘Golden Age of Surgery’ in ancient India. The genius of Sushruta prompted eminent surgeon Allen Whipple to declare, “All in all, Sushruta must be considered the greatest surgeon period of this age.”

Shalya Tantra

The Sushruta Samhita is a foundational text in the field of Ayurveda that was written by the ancient Indian physician and surgeon Sushruta. It contains descriptions of over 1,100 surgical procedures and classifies them into 8 categories, one of which is Shalya Tantra, which deals with the surgical treatment of injuries and traumatic conditions.

The Shalya Tantra section of the Sushruta Samhita covers a wide range of topics, including the treatment of fractures, dislocations, and wounds, as well as the management of abscesses and tumors. It also includes detailed descriptions of various surgical instruments and techniques, including the use of anaesthesia and post-operative care. The Sushruta Samhita is still considered an important text in the field of Ayurveda and is studied by practitioners of this traditional system of medicine.

“Anyone, who wishes to acquire a thorough knowledge of anatomy, must prepare a dead body and carefully observe and examine all its parts.”

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SUSHRUTA

Other contributions by Sushruta in Medical Science

Besides trauma involving general surgery, Sushruta also gave an in-depth account of the treatment of 12 varieties of fracture and six types of dislocation in bones. This continues to spellbind orthopedic surgeons even in modern medical procedures.

Shusruta gave in-depth knowledge about food combinations, benefits by it and digestion issues caused by wrong combinations.

He also mentioned the basic principles to follow in general lifestyle for a good health and longevity.

He deeply discussed the principles of traction, manipulation, apposition, stabilization, and postoperative physiotherapy in his books.

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Sushruta prescribed several measures to induce growth of lost hair and removal of unwanted hair.

He implored surgeons to achieve perfect healing which is characterized by the absence of any elevation, induration, swelling mass, and the return of normal coloring.

Sushruta is also credited with developing and improving upon various surgical instruments and techniques, including the use of catgut for suture material and the use of a needle to extract foreign bodies from the eye. He is also credited with describing more than 1,100 diseases and 300 surgical procedures in the Sushruta Samhita.

Overall, Sushruta’s contributions to the field of medicine and surgery have have an ever lasting impact and continue to be recognized and respected by the medical community to this day.

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