Medieval Surgery

Surgery during the Medieval Era

During medieval times Surgery and knowledge of the Anatomy was developed as dissection was allowed. Doctors would, as part of their training, be lectured on the theories of Galen and often a dissection would form part of this teaching. However it was a demonstrator, rather than the doctor, who performed this and often mistakes would be made or inaccuracies blamed upon poor workmanship rather than ill-informed theories: meaning that for a long time the anatomical works of Galen and the Islamic physicians went unchallenged in Western Europe.

The age-old problem of unsuccessful surgery was however partially dealt with. Doctors recognised that infection and pain were the primary causes of death during surgery. To combat this they started to use wine as an antiseptic and drugs to ease pain. Surgery was still limited to the removal of cysts, cataracts and minor operations to cure wounds, a procedure which developed as a result of conflicts (although each time doctors worked out how to remove a type of arrow head from the body a new type of arrow was introduced).