The earliest known written record of surgical procedures done in India are found in a book named Sushruta Samhita, written more than 2,500 years ago! It is also probably the world’s oldest written detailed record of surgeries. The surgeries described include plastic surgery – the science of repairing and reconstructing damaged parts of the body. Sushruta, the author of the book, was probably the first person to perform such operations.
In the Rig Veda, written even earlier, there’s a mention of how a queen who lost a leg in battle was given a metal leg so that she could walk properly again. But the Sushruta Samhita is the first book that gives details of actual surgical procedures.
Some of the procedures followed in the olden days are valid even today. In fact, modern day doctors are particularly impressed by Sushruta’s account of how to do Rhinoplasty – rebuild a nose.
The Sushruta Samhita talks of 300 different surgical procedures and describes over a 100 surgical tools! Sushruta describes needles made of bronze or bone, and ‘thread’ made of bark, hair or silk. He notes that wine can be given to a patient to dull the pain, much like anaesthesia does today.
Sushruta also described how to perform small procedures, like piercing the ear-lobes of children.
This great doctor lived around 600 B.C, and he is known as the ‘Father of Indian Surgery.’
Susrutha’s fame spread, and it is believed that doctors from Greece travelled all the way to India to watch him and learn.