Surgery History

Timeline created by brian.nguyen902
In History
  • Period:
    3,100 BCE
    -30 BCE

    Ancient Egypt

    Surgery was not common. However, the Ancient Egyptians were excellent at bandaging, using willow leaves which have antiseptic properties to bandage inflamed wounds. The Ancient Egyptians also stitched wounds.
  • Period:
    -800 BCE
    -500 BCE

    Ancient Greece

    Greeks performed procedures such as setting broken bones, draining the lungs of patients with pneumonia, amputations, and also bloodletting (draining blood to balance the four humors which was made up) was practiced. The main type of surgery used in Ancient Greece was military surgery.
  • Period:
    -753 BCE
    -27 BCE

    Ancient Rome

    Romans performed trepanations (drilling a hole in the brain) to relieve pressure and cure headaches. Cataract surgery (which included pushing a fine needle into the cataract and suctioning out the remains through a long tube) was also known and had a moderate rate of vision improvement. Other surgeries included cosmetic surgery (removing excess skin and tissue) and tumor removals as well as hernia operations.
  • Period:


    Surgeries for tumors, hernias and cesarean sections became popular during the Renaissance. Cauterizing was also used during the Renaissance. Rhinoplasty (that involved sewing a piece of an arm to the nose to grow skin) was practiced. Bloodletting was also practiced at this time.
  • Period: to

    Seventeenth Century

    Barber-surgeons performed amputations without anesthetics, using unclean tools that have not been washed since they were used before. Skull trephining was still performed. Cauterizations were performed using a hot iron. This was the era of "traveling lithomists".
  • Interesting Fact #1- William Cheselden

    William Cheselden became the first Warden of the Company of Surgeons in 1744, and he was known as one of the "travelling lithotomists" and removed bladder stones. He had a 50% mortality rate, which was considered outstanding.
  • Interesting Fact #2- Joseph Priestley

    Joseph Priestley isolated nitrous oxide, known as "laughing gas" which had pain-relieving properties. The gas was used for public entertainment, but was popularized by dentists. It is now used to maintain safe fact anesthesia in most surgical patients
  • Eighteenth Century

    John Hunter (1728-1793) was a famous 18th century surgeon. He taught and practiced many new procedures such as operations like tracheotomies. These practices are now considered routine nowadays. He is considered the "Founder of Scientific Surgery". The Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons of England which was named after John Hunter bought his works originally, containing his surgical and anatomical preparations, in 1799.
  • Interesting Fact #3- William Morton

    The first ever anesthetic was administered to a patient at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, USA by William Morton.
  • Interesting Fact #4- James Young Simpson

    James Young Simpson was the first ever person to administer a chloroform anesthetic to himself in 1847. It was later found to cause toxicity in the heart in liver and withdrawn as the anesthetic of choice.
  • Interesting Fact #5- Joseph Lister

    In 1867, Joseph Lister found that germs spread infection. Carbolic acid steam spray was recommended to be used as an antiseptic during surgery. This caused the post-operative mortality to drop from 46% to 15% in just three years. Carbolic acid irritated the skin, eyes and lungs, and was replaced later by a more effective solution.