Primitive Surgery Of The Western Hemisphere


Natural and supernatural causes of surgical and medical ailments were recognized by natives. Trephining is one of the very oldest surgical operations and was extensively practiced by prehistoric peoples everywhere, probably for therapeutic and other purposes. Many trephinings were done post-mortem but evidence exists that others were ante-mortem. The Smithsonian collection contains the skull of a Peruvian mummy on which the dried soft parts are still in place; trephining had been done at the seat of a fracture in the left temporal region. Most trephinings in America do not seem to have been done very skillfully. The results of treating broken bones seem to have been good. Suturing incised wounds was common. Suction was done with the mouth, either directly or through a tube of stone, wood, or bone. Cupping, scarification, cauterization, and phlebotomy were common. Although not extensively practiced, amputation was carried out. Jimson weed substance was used for anesthesia by the Zunis. Footnotes. Poor graphics.