Would you go to the surgeon in middle ages?

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Cataracts:
  • Madness

  • Bloody
  • Miction difficulties
  • Cesarea

  • Dentist:

  • Amputation
  • Surgery room
Quirófano medieval

11 Strange Remedies Used By Renaissance Doctors


The Renaissance may have been a time of great scientific and artistic innovation, but the era’s medical treatments still had a ways to go before they became safe and effective. Here are a few questionable cures a Renaissance doctor may have prescribed you. 


Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the New World, medical uses for smoke were limited to Greek and Eastern traditions involving incense for the treatment of cough and "female diseases."
Once tobacco crossed the pond, European healers found plenty of ways to use the leaf as a compress, mixture ingredient, or inhalant for treating such ailments as cancer, headaches, respiratory problems, stomach cramps, head cold, hypothermia, intestinal worms, and somnolence. For a period, tobacco was seen as a true miracle drug and was even worshipped in healing-based rituals.
Taking cues from a similar Native American tradition, Western healers also made a habit of performing tobacco-smoke enemas for respiratory conditions and in attempts to revive drowning victims. On the smokeless front, doctors preferred liquid tobacco enemas for treating hernias.


Smoke was far from the only thing being introduced to Renaissance rectums in the name of good health. As an effective method of getting medicine in the body and targeting intestinal issues, the enema was central to the era’s medical arsenal and was considered appropriate treatment for everything from constipation to cancer. 


Emetics were often distributed to induce vomiting as part of illness-specific, or all-around purge processes in Renaissance life, too. An evolving but long-standing belief in the importance of the body’s four humors (blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm) combined with a growing awareness of toxicology, the body’s chemical processes. The Ancient Greek belief in the humors soon fused with the Ayurvedic elemental system to lead healers to encourage bodily cleanses for removing perceived excesses from the body, be they from snakebites and boozing, or supposed planetary-based mineral spikes. 


Right up until Europe’s Modern Age and arguably into it, Western medical practitioners could be physicians—many of whom assumed a theoretical, hands-off role—but also surgeons, religious figures, wise women, apothecaries, and barbers. Because they already had the tools required to perform simple surgeries (i.e. straight razors), a barber would often be the go-to option for a person’s local surgical needs. In 1540, British surgeons—skilled tradesmen who were distinct from trained physicians— joined with barbers to form the Company of Barber-Surgeons livery group under Henry VIII, which remained active until 1745. 
Barbers would frequently perform cupping therapy, which creates localized suction on the body (thought to induce heightened circulation), bloodletting therapy (for draining excess blood in the case of imbalanced humors), and pulling teeth (if an herbal compress or a flaming twig failed to make the worm—thought to be burrowing in the tooth’s cavity—fall out). These barbers could also, of course, cut hair, give shaves, and perform enemas. 


By the middle of the last millennium, Western and Eastern societies were sharing an unprecedented amount of knowledge and culture, and Europe’s Renaissance healers frequently drew on the old, overlapping Christian and Islamic belief that God had endowed the world with cures for human illnesses in the form of plants resembling the body’s respectively ailing parts. The daisy-like Euphrasia flower (or “eyebright”), for example, was used in various concoctions for treating the eyes through the 17th century. 
Jakob Böhme's 1621 work The Signature of All Things helped name and spread the popular “doctrine of signatures” that outlined this theory. The English botanist William Cole, among the doctrine’s many supporters, wrote that “the mercy of God... maketh… Herbes for the use of men, and hath… given them particular Signatures, whereby a man may read… the use of them.” 


Born Philippus von Hohenheim in 1493, Paracelsus was a highly accomplished Swiss German physician, botanist, and alchemist who, among many other things, founded the field of toxicology and openly challenged many of the still-popular medical principles established by Aristotle and Galen more than 1,000 years earlier. A major proponent of astrology, Paracelsus outlined herbal, mineral, and spiritual treatments designed to maintain harmony between the microcosm (man) and macrocosm (nature), often prescribing different regimens based on the planets’ alignments. He also revised Greek definitions of the roles of the four bodily humors, suggesting that they were just one of the ways that you got sick, and most diseases weren’t caused by internal imbalances. 


Rhiwallon Feddyg (a.k.a. Rhiwallon of Myddfai) was personal physician to the Welsh lord Rhys Gryg (a.k.a. Rhys the Hoarse/Stammerer). In addition to founding a centuries-long Welsh medical dynasty or "healing cult" with his three sons, he recorded centuries’ worth of know-how from the Physicians of Myddfai in the 1382 manuscript The Red Book of Hergest.
Compiling the collected Welsh medical wisdom, the tome was one of the earliest to offer compiled info on specific illnesses, their treatments, and various anatomical definitions, but also other practical applications of botany. A selection of its suggestions: 
DRUNKENNESS. TO REMOVE. If you would remove a man's drunkenness, let him eat bruised saffron with spring water.
HOW TO BE MERRY. If you would be at all times merry, eat saffron in meat or drink, and you will never be sad: but beware of eating over much, lest you should die of excessive joy.
TO SILENCE A COCK. If you should wish that a cock should not crow, anoint his crest with oil, and he will be mute. 


Booze was an integral part of Western medicine up through the early 20th century, and it was a popular treatment throughout the Middle Ages for its ability to “preserve the stomach, strengthen the natural heat, help digestion, defend the body from corruption, [and] concoct the food till it be turned into very blood,” according to 13th-century alchemist Roger Bacon. 


Paracelsus and his peers were committed to the idea of harmony between man’s microcosm and nature’s macrocosm. They believed that this harmony relied on the interrelationships between the perceived seven planets (interestingly, he considered the Sun and Moon planets, but not Earth), the seven Earth metals, and the seven major human organs. In this system, each of the seven planets had a corresponding metal and organ (example triads being Sun/gold/heart and Jupiter/tin/liver) and allowed healers to prescribe metal-based treatments to target different areas of the body. 
The Renaissance also saw the emergence and spread of syphilis throughout the Western world, the treatment for which was—as developed by Paracelsus—ingested or externally applied mercury, leading to a number of poisonings. Still, this would remain the dominant therapy until the early 20th century.


Wasting and wanting not, Renaissance healers put not just any available plants, minerals, and religions to use in their remedies, but all sorts of scraps and waste products from human and animal bodies, too. Human fecal matter was used in variously ingested and externally applied medicines, earwax (mixed with mud) was used for treating migraines, and saliva was applied for skin irritation. Weakened patients drank human blood, which was also available for lepers to soak their limbs. 


Meanwhile, the droppings of dogs and crows were prized for treating colic and dysentery, respectively. Pig urine fought fevers, and the roasted flesh of “well nourished kittens” relieved jaundice.

Timeline of History of Medicine


  • 2600 BC – Imhotep the priest-physician who was later deified as the Egyptian god of medicine.[1]ancient Egyptian medicine
  • 2500 BC - Iry Egyptian inscription speaks of Iry as [eye-doctor of the palace,] [palace physician of the belly,] [guardian of the royal bowels,] and [he who prepares the important medicine (name cannot be translated) and knows the inner juices of the body.][2]
  • 1900 BC - 1600 BC Akkadian clay tablets on medicine survive primarily as copies from Ashurbanipal's library at Nineveh.[3]
  • 1800 BC - Code of Hammurabi sets out fees for surgeons and punishments for malpractice[2]
  • 1800 BC - Kahun Gynecological Papyrus
  • 1600 BC - Hearst papyrus Coprotherapy and magic[4]
  • 1551 BC - Ebers Papyrus Coprotherapy and magic[5]
  • 1500 BC – Saffron used as a medicine on the Aegean island of Thera in ancient Greece
  • 1500 BC - Edwin Smith Papyrus an Egyptian medical text and the oldest known surgical treatise (no true surgery) no magic[2]
  • 1300 BC - Brugsch Papyrus and London Medical Papyrus
  • 1250 BC - Asklepios[2]
  • 9th century- Hesiod reports an ontological conception of disease via the Pandora myth. Disease has a "life" of its own but is of divine origin.[4]
  • 8th century - Homer tells that Polydamna supplied the Greek forces besieging Troy with healing drugs Homer also tells about battlefield surgery Idomeneus tells Nestor after Machaon had fallen: A surgeon who can cut out an arrow and heal the wound with his ointments is worth a regiment.[2]
  • 700 BC - Cnidos medical school also one at Cos
  • 500 BC - Darius I orders the restoration of the House of Life (First record of a (much older) medical school)[2]:47
  • 500 BC – Bian Que becomes the earliest physician known to use acupuncture and pulse diagnosis
  • 500 BC – the Sushruta Samhita is published, laying the framework for Ayurvedic medicine
  • c 490 - c 430 Empedocles four elements[5]
  • 510-430 BC - Alcmaeon of Croton scientific anatomic dissections. He studied the optic nerves and the brain, arguing that the brain was the seat of the senses and intelligence. He distinguished veins from the arteries and had at least vague understanding of the circulation of the blood.[2] Variously described by modern scholars as Father of Anatomy; Father of Physiology; Father of Embryology; Father of Psychology; Creator of Psychiatry; Founder of Gynecology; and as the Father of Medicine itself.[6] There is little evidence to support the claims but he is, nonetheless, important.[5][7]
  • fl. 425 BC Diogenes of Apollonia[5]
  • c.484 – 425 BC Herodotus tells us Egyptian doctors were specialists: Medicine is practiced among them on a plan of separation; each physician treats a single disorder, and no more. Thus the country swarms with medical practitioners, some undertaking to cure diseases of the eye, others of the head, others again of the teeth, others of the intestines,and some those which are not local.[2]
  • 496-405 BC - Sophocles “It is not a learned physician who sings incantations over pains which should be cured by cutting.”[8]
  • 420 BC – Hippocrates of Cos maintains that diseases have natural causes and puts forth the Hippocratic Oath. Origin of rational medicine.
  • Medicine after Hippocrates
  • c. 400 BC - 1 BC – The Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine) is published, laying the framework for traditional Chinese medicine
  • 4th century BC - Philistion of Locri[5] Praxagoras distinguishes veins and arteries and determines only arteries pulse[9]
  • 375-295 BC Diocles of Carystus[1][5][10]
  • 354 BC - Critobulus, extracts an arrow from Phillip II's eye, treating the loss of the eyeball without causing facial disfigurement
  • 3rd century BC - Philinus of Cos founder of the Empiricist school. Herophilos and Erasistratus practice androtomy. (Dissecting live and dead human beings)
  • 280 BC – Herophilus Dissection[7] studies the nervous system and distinguishes between sensory nerves and motor nerves and the brain. also the anatomy of the eye and medical terminology such as (in Latin translation "net like" becomes retiform/retina.[5]
  • 270 – Huangfu Mi writes the Zhenjiu Jiayijing (The ABC Compendium of Acupuncture), the first textbook focusing solely on acupuncture
  • 250 BC – Erasistratus studies the brain and distinguishes between the cerebrum and cerebellum physiology of the brain, heart and eyes, and in the vascular, nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems.
  • 219 – Zhang Zhongjing publishes Shang Han Lun (On Cold Disease Damage).
  • 200 BC – the Charaka Samhita uses a rational approach to the causes and cure of disease and uses objective methods of clinical examination
  • 124- 44 BC - Asclepiades of Bithynia[7]
  • 116–27 B.C - Marcus Terentius Varro Germ theory of disease No one paid any attention to it.[11]
  • 1st century AD - Rufus of Ephesus; Marcellinus a physician of the first century AD;[5] Numisianus[6]
  • 23 AD – 79 AD Pliny the Elder writes Natural History
  • ca 25 BC - ca 50 AD Aulus Cornelius Celsus Medical encyclopedia[12]
  • 50-70 AD – Pedanius Dioscorides writes De Materia Medica – a precursor of modern pharmacopoeias that was in use for almost 1600 years
  • 2nd century AD Aretaeus of Cappadocia[7]
  • 98-138 AD - Soranus of Ephesus[13]
  • 129 - 216 AD – Galen Clinical medicine based on observation and experience.[10] The resulting tightly integrated and comprehensive system, offering a complete medical philosophy dominated medicine throughout the Middle Ages and until the beginning of the modern era.[14]

After Galen 200 AD

  • d.260 - Gargilius Martialis, short Latin handbook on Medicines from Vegetables and Fruits[10]
  • 4th century Magnus of Nisibis, Alexandrian doctor and professor book on urine[15]
  • 325-400 - Oribasius 70 volume encyclopedia[3]
  • 362 - Julian orders xenones built, imitating Christian charity (proto hospitals)[15]
  • 369 Basil of Caesarea founded at Caesarea in Cappadocia an institution (hospital) called Basilias, with several buildings for patients, nurses, physicians, workshops, and schools[13]
  • 375 - Ephrem the Syrian opened a hospital at Edessa[13] They spread out ans specialized nosocomia for the sick, brephotrophia for foundlings, orphanotrophia for orphans, ptochia for the poor, xenodochia for poor or infirm pilgrims, and gerontochia for the old.[13]
  • 400 - The first hospital in Latin Christendom was founded by Fabiola at Rome[13]
  • 420 - Caelius Aurelianus a doctor from Sicca Veneria (El-Kef, Tunisia) handbook On Acute and Chronic Diseases in Latin.[10]
  • 447 - Cassius Felix of Cirta (Constantine, Ksantina, Algeria), medical handbook drew on Greek sources, Methodist and Galenist in Latin[10]
  • 480 -547 Benedict of Nursia founder of "monastic medicine"[16]
  • fl. 511–534 Anthimus Greek: Ἄνθιμος[17]
  • 536 Sergius of Reshaina (died 536) A Christian theologian-physician who translated thirty-two of Galen’s works into Syriac and wrote medical treatises of his own[18]
  • 525-605 - Alexander of Tralles[15] Alexander Trallianus
  • 500-550 - Aetius of Amida Encyclopedia 4 books each divided into 4 sections[3][3][15]
  • second half of 6th century building of xenodocheions/bimārestāns by the Nestorians under the Sasanians, would evolve into the complex secular “Islamic hospital,” which combined lay practice and Galenic teaching[18]
  • 550-630 Stephanus of Athens[10][19]
  • 560 – 636 Isidore of Seville
  • c. 620 Aaron of Alexandria Syriac . He wrote 30 books on medicine, the "Pandects". He was the first author in antiquity who mentioned the diseases of smallpox and measles[20] translated by Māsarjawaih a Syrian Jew and Physician, into Arabic about A. D. 683
  • c. 630 - Paul of Aegina Encyclopedia in 7 books very detailed surgery used by Albucasis[10][15][21]
  • 790-869 Leo Itrosophist also Mathematician or Philosopher wrote "Epitome of Medicine"
  • c. 800–873 – Al-Kindi (Alkindus) De Gradibus
  • 820 - Benedictine hospital founded, School of Salerno would grow around it[3]
  • 857d - Mesue the elder (Yūḥannā ibn Māsawayh) Syriac Christian[14]
  • c. 830–870 – Hunayn ibn Ishaq (Johannitius) Syriac-speaking Christian also knew Greek and Arabic. Translator and author of several medical tracts.[14]
  • c. 838–870 – Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari, writes an encyclopedia of medicine in Arabic.[22]
  • c.910d - Ishaq ibn Hunayn
  • 9th century Yahya ibn Sarafyun a Syriac physician Johannes Serapion,[14] Serapion the Elder
  • c. 865–925 – Rhazes pediatrics,[3][23] and makes the first clear distinction between smallpox and measles in his al-Hawi.
  • d.955 - Isaac Judaeus Isḥāq ibn Sulaymān al-Isrāʾīlī Egyptian born Jewish physician[14]
  • 913-982 - Shabbethai Donnolo alleged founding father of School of Salerno wrote in Hebrew[24]
  • d. 982-994 'Ali ibn al-'Abbas al-Majusi Haly Abbas[3]
  • 1000 – Albucasis (936-1018) surgery Kitab al-Tasrif, surgical instruments.[14]
  • d.1075 - Ibn Butlan Christian physician of Baghdad Tacuinum sanitatis the Arabic original and most of the Latin copies, are in tabular format[14]
  • 1018-1087 Michael Psellos or Psellus a Byzantine monk, writer, philosopher, politician and historian. several books on medicine[15]
  • c. 1030 – Avicenna The Canon of Medicine The Canon remains a standard textbook in Muslim and European universities until the 18th century.
  • c.1071-1078 Simeon Seth or Symeon Seth an 11th-century Jewish Byzantine translated Arabic works into Greek[15]
  • 1084 - First documented hospital in England Canterbury[13]
  • 1087d - Constantine the African[14]
  • 1083-1153 Anna Komnene, Latinized as Comnena
  • 1095 - Congregation of the Antonines, was founded to treat victims of "St. Anthony's fire" a skin disease.[13]
  • late 11th early 12th century Trotula[25]
  • 1123 - St Bartholomew's Hospital founded by the court jester Rahere Augustine nuns originally cared for the patients. Mental patients were accepted along with others[26]
  • 1127 - Stephen of Antioch translated the work of Haly Abbas
  • 1100–1161 – Avenzoar Teacher of Averroes[27]
  • 1170 Rogerius Salernitanus composed his Chirurgia also known as The Surgery of Roger
  • 1126-1198 - Averroes[3]
  • c.1161d - Matthaeus Platearius

1200 - 1500
  • 1204 - Innocent III organized the hospital of Santo Spirito at Rome inspiring others all over Europe
  • c.1210-1277 - William of Saliceto also known as Guilielmus de Saliceto
  • 1210 - 1295 Taddeo Alderotti Scholastic medicine[28]
  • 1240 Bartholomeus Anglicus[4]
  • 1242 – Ibn an-Nafis suggests that the right and left ventricles of the heart are separate and discovers the pulmonary circulation and coronary circulation[14]
  • c. 1248 – Ibn al-Baitar wrote on botany and pharmacy,[14] studied animal anatomy and medicine veterinary medicine.
  • 1249 – Roger Bacon writes about convex lens spectacles for treating long-sightedness
  • 1257 - 1316 Pietro d'Abano also known as Petrus De Apono or Aponensis[28]
  • 1260 - Louis IX established, Les Quinze-vingt; originally a retreat for the blind, it became a hospital for eye diseases, and is now one of the most important medical centers in Paris[13]
  • c. 1260 – 1316 Henri de Mondeville
  • 1284 - Mansur hospital of Cairo[3]
  • c. 1275 – c. 1328 Joannes Zacharias Actuarius a Byzantine physician wrote the last great compendium of Byzantine medicine[15]
  • 1275-1326 Mondino de Luzzi "Mundinus" carried out the first systematic human dissections since Herophilus of Chalcedon and Erasistratus of Ceos 1500 years earlier.[29][30]
  • 1288 The hospital of Santa Maria Nuova founded in Florence, it was strictly medical.[4]
  • 1300 – concave lens spectacles to treat myopia developed in Italy.[31]
  • 1310 Pietro d'Abano's Conciliator (c.1310)[4]
  • d1348 Gentile da Foligno[28]
  • 1292-1350 - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziya[3]
  • 1306-1390 John of Arderne[29][32][33]
  • d.1368 Guy de Chauliac[29][34]
  • f.1460 Heinrich von Pfolspeundt[29][30][35][36][37]
  • 1443-1502 Antonio Benivieni[29][38] Pathological anatomy[39]
  • 1493-1541 Paracelsus[29] On the relationship between medicine and surgery[40] surgery book[41]
  • early 16th century:
  • Paracelsus, an alchemist by trade, rejects occultism and pioneers the use of chemicals and minerals in medicine. Burns the books of Avicenna, Galen and Hippocrates.[42]
  • Hieronymus Fabricius[29] His "Surgery" is mostly that of Celsus, Paul of Aegina, and Abulcasis citeing them by name.[43]
  • Caspar Stromayr or Stromayer Sixteenth Century[29][44]
  • 1500?-1561 Pierre Franco[29][37][45][46]
  • Ambroise Pare 1510-1590 pioneered the treatment of gunshot wounds.[29][47][48]
  • Bartholomeo Maggi at Bologna, Felix Wurtz of Zurich, Léonard Botal in Paris, and the Englishman Thomas Gale (surgeon), (the diversity of their geographical origins attests to the widespread interest of surgeons in the problem), all published works urging similar treatment to Paré’s. But it was Paré’s writings which were the most influential.[49]
  • 1518 - College of Physicians founded now known as Royal College of Physicians of London is a British professional body of doctors of general medicine and its subspecialties. It received the royal charter in 1518[50]
  • 1510-1590 Ambroise Paré surgeon[50]
  • 1540-1604 William Clowes (surgeon)[29][36][51] Surgical chest for military surgeons[51][52]
  • 1543 – Andreas Vesalius publishes De Fabrica Corporis Humani which corrects Greek medical errors and revolutionizes European medicine[53][54]
  • 1546 – Girolamo Fracastoro proposes that epidemic diseases are caused by transferable seedlike entities
  • 1550-1612 Peter Lowe [29][52][55]
  • 1553 – Miguel Serveto describes the circulation of blood through the lungs. He is accused of heresy and burned at the stake
  • 1556 – Amato Lusitano describes venous valves in the Ázigos vein
  • 1559 – Realdo Colombo describes the circulation of blood through the lungs in detail
  • 1563 – Garcia de Orta founds tropical medicine with his treatise on Indian diseases and treatments
  • 1570 1643 John Woodall Ships Surgeon used lemon juice to treat scurvy[52] wrote "The Surgions Mate"[56]
  • 1596 – Li Shizhen publishes Běncǎo Gāngmù or Compendium of Materia Medica
  • 1603 – Girolamo Fabrici studies leg veins and notices that they have valves which allow blood to flow only toward the heart
  • 1621-1676 Richard Wiseman[29][36][52][57][58]
  • 1628 – William Harvey explains the circulatory system in Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus
  • 1683-1758 Lorenz Heister[29][52][59]
  • 1688-1752 William Cheselden[29][52][60][61][62]
  • 1701 – Giacomo Pylarini gives the first smallpox inoculations in Europe. They were widely practised in the east before then.
  • 1714-1789 Percivall Pott[29][63][64][65][66]
  • 1720 - Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
  • 1728-1793 John Hunter (surgeon)[29][47][67][68]
  • 1736 – Claudius Aymand performs the first successful appendectomy
  • 1744-1795 Pierre-Joseph Desault[29][52][69] First surgical periodical[70]
  • 1747 – James Lind discovers that citrus fruits prevent scurvy
  • 1749-1806 Benjamin Bell Leading surgeon of his time and father of a surgical dynasty[29] system of surgery[71]
  • 1752-1832 Antonio Scarpa[29][52][72][73]
  • 1763-1820John Bell (surgeon)[29][36][74][75]
  • 1766-1842 Dominique Jean Larrey Surgeon to Napoleon[29][36][52][76][77][78][79]
  • 1768-1843 Astley Cooper sergeon[29][52][72] lectures[80] principles and practice[81]
  • 1774-1842 Charles Bell, surgeon[29][36][74][82]
  • 1774 – Joseph Priestley discovers nitrous oxide, nitric oxide, ammonia, hydrogen chloride and oxygen
  • 1777-1835 - Baron Guillaume Dupuytren[29] Head surgeon at Hôtel-Dieu de Paris,[83] The age Dupuytren[84][85]
  • 1785 – William Withering publishes "An Account of the Foxglove" the first systematic description of digitalis in treating dropsy
  • 1790 – Samuel Hahnemann rages against the prevalent practice of bloodletting as a universal cure and founds homeopathy
  • 1796 – Edward Jenner develops a smallpox vaccination method
  • 1799 – Humphry Davy discovers the anesthetic properties of nitrous oxide
  • 1800 – Humphry Davy announces the anaesthetic properties of nitrous oxide
  • 1813-1883 James Marion Sims Vesico-vaganial surgery[29][86][87] Father of surgical genocology[36] Biography[88]
  • 1816 – Rene Laennec invents the stethoscope
  • 1827-1912 Joseph Lister Anti-septic surgery[29][52][89] Father of modern surgery[90]
  • 1818 – James Blundell performs the first successful human blood transfusion
  • 1842 – Crawford Long performs the first surgical operation using anesthesia with ether
  • 1846 – First painless surgery with general anesthetic
  • 1847 – Ignaz Semmelweis discovers how to prevent puerperal fever
  • 1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell is the first woman to gain a medical degree
  • 1858 - Rudolf Carl Virchow 13 October 1821 – 5 September 1902 his theories of cellular pathology spelled the end of Humoral medicine
  • 1867 – Lister publishes Antiseptic Principle of the Practice of Surgery, based partly on Pasteur's work
  • 1870 – Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch establish the germ theory of disease
  • 1878 – Ellis Reynolds Shipp graduates from Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania and begins practice in Utah
  • 1879 – First vaccine for cholera
  • 1881 – Louis Pasteur develops an anthrax vaccine
  • 1882 – Louis Pasteur develops a rabies vaccine
  • 1890 – Emil von Behring discovers antitoxins and uses them to develop tetanus and diphtheria vaccines
  • 1895 – Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovers medical use of X-rays in medical imaging
  • 1901 – Karl Landsteiner discovers the existence of different human blood types
  • 1901 – Alois Alzheimer identifies the first case of what becomes known as Alzheimer's disease
  • 1903 - Willem Einthoven discovers electrocardiography (ECG/EKG)
  • 1906 – Frederick Hopkins suggests the existence of vitamins and suggests that a lack of vitamins causes scurvy and rickets
  • 1907 – Paul Ehrlich develops a chemotherapeutic cure for sleeping sickness
  • 1908 – Victor Horsley and R. Clarke invents the stereotactic method
  • 1909 – First Intrauterine device described by Richard Richter.[91]
  • 1910 - Hans Christian Jacobaeus performs the first laparoscopy on humans
  • 1917 – Julius Wagner-Jauregg discovers the malarial fever shock therapy for general paresis of the insane
  • 1921 – Edward Mellanby discovers vitamin D and shows that its absence causes rickets
  • 1921 – Frederick Banting and Charles Best discover insulin – important for the treatment of diabetes
  • 1921 – Fidel Pagés pioneers epidural anesthesia
  • 1923 – First vaccine for Diphtheria
  • 1926 – First vaccine for Pertussis
  • 1927 – First vaccine for Tuberculosis
  • 1927 – First vaccine for Tetanus
  • 1928 – Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin
  • 1929 – Hans Berger discovers human electroencephalography
  • 1932 – Gerhard Domagk develops a chemotherapeutic cure for streptococcus
  • 1933 – Manfred Sakel discovers insulin shock therapy
  • 1935 – Ladislas J. Meduna discovers metrazol shock therapy
  • 1935 – First vaccine for Yellow Fever
  • 1936 – Egas Moniz discovers prefrontal lobotomy for treating mental diseases; Enrique Finochietto develops the now ubiquitous self-retaining thoracic retractor
  • 1938 – Ugo Cerletti and Lucio Bini discover electroconvulsive therapy
  • 1943 – Willem J Kolff build the first dialysis machine
  • 1944 - Disposable Catheter - David S. Sheridan
  • 1946 - Chemotherapy - Alfred G. Gilman and Louis S.Goodman
  • 1947 - Defibrillator - Claude Beck
  • 1948 - Acetaminophen - Julius Axelrod, Bernard Brodie
  • 1949 – First implant of intraocular lens, by Sir Harold Ridley
  • 1949 - mechanical assistor for anesthesia - John Emerson
  • 1952 – Jonas Salk develops the first polio vaccine (available in 1955)
  • 1952 - Cloning - Robert Briggs & Thomas King
  • 1953 - Heart-Lung Machine - Dr John Heysham Gibbon
  • 1953 - Medical Ultrasonography - Inge Edler
  • 1954 - Joseph Murray performs the first human kidney transplant (on identical twins)
  • 1954 - Ventouse - Tage Malmstrom
  • 1955 - Tetracycline - Lloyd Conover
  • 1956 - Metered Dose Inhaler - 3M
  • 1957 – William Grey Walter invents the brain EEG topography (toposcope)
  • 1958 - Pacemaker - Rune Elmqvist
  • 1959 - In Vitro Fertilization - Min Chueh Chang
  • 1960 – Invention of Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • 1960 – First combined oral contraceptive approved by the FDA[91]
  • 1962 - Hip Replacement - John Charnley
  • 1962 - Beta Blocker James W. Black
  • 1962 – First Oral Polio Vaccine (Sabin)
  • 1963 - Artificial Heart - Paul Winchell
  • 1963 - Thomas Starzl performs the first human liver transplant
  • 1963 - James Hardy performs the first human lung transplant
  • 1963 - Valium (diazepam) - Leo H Sternbach
  • 1964 – First vaccine for Measles
  • 1965 – Frank Pantridge installs the first portable defibrillator
  • 1965 – First commercial ultrasound
  • 1966 - C. Walton Lillehei performs the first human pancreas transplant
  • 1966 - Rubella Vaccine - Harry Martin Meyer and Paul D. Parkman[92]
  • 1967 – First vaccine for Mumps
  • 1967 – Christiaan Barnard performs the first human heart transplant
  • 1968 - Powered Prothesis - Samuel Alderson
  • 1968 - Controlled Drug Delivery - Alejandro Zaffaron
  • 1969 - Internet - Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA)
  • 1969 - Balloon Catheter - Thomas Fogarty
  • 1969 - Cochlear Implant - William House
  • 1970 - Cyclosporine, the first effective immunosuppressive drug is introduced in organ transplant practice
  • 1971 - Genetically Modified Organisms - Ananda Chakrabart
  • 1971 - Magnetic Resonance Imaging - Raymond Vahan Damadian
  • 1971 - Computed Tomography (CT or CAT Scan) - Godfrey Hounsfield
  • 1971 - Transdermal Patches - Alejandro Zaffaroni
  • 1971 – Sir Godfrey Hounsfield invents the first commercial CT scanner
  • 1972 - Insulin Pump - Dean Kamen
  • 1973 - Laser Eye Surgery (LASIK) - Mani Lal Bhaumik
  • 1974 - Liposuction - Giorgio Fischer
  • 1976 – First commercial PET scanner
  • 1978 – Last fatal case of smallpox[93]
  • 1979 Antiviral Drugs - George Hitchings & Gertrude Elion
  • 1980 – Raymond Damadian builds first commercial MRI scanner
  • 1980 - Lithotripter - Dornier Research Group
  • 1980 – First vaccine for Hepatitis B - Dr Baruch Samuel Blumberg
  • 1981 - Artificial Skin - John F. Burke & Ioannis V Yannas
  • 1981 - Bruce Reitz performs the first human heart-lung combined transplant
  • 1982 - Humulin insulin - Eli Lilly
  • Interferon Cloning - Sidney Pestka
  • 1985 - Automated DNA Sequencer - Leroy Hood & Lloyd Smith
  • 1985 - Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) - Kaery Mullis
  • 1985 - Surgical Robot - Dr Yik San Kwoh
  • 1985 - DNA Fingerprinting - Alec Jeffreys
  • 1985 - Capsule Endoscopy - Tarun Mullick
  • 1986 - Fluoxetine HCl - Eli Lilly and Co
  • 1987 – Ben Carson, leading a 70-member medical team in Germany, was the first to separate occipital craniopagus twins.
  • 1987 - commercially available Statins - Merck & Co.
  • 1987 - Tissue Engineering - Joseph Vacanti & Robert Langer
  • 1988 - Intravascular Stent - Julio Palmaz
  • 1988 - Laser Cataract Surgery - Dr Patricia Bath
  • 1989 - Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) - Alan Handyside
  • 1989 - DNA Microarray - Stephen Fodor
  • 1990 - Gamow Bag ® - Dr Igor Gamow
  • 1992 – First vaccine for Hepatitis A available[94]
  • 1992 - Electroactive polymers (Artificial Muscle) - SRI International
  • 1992 - Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) - Andre van Steirteghem
  • 1996 - Dolly the Sheep cloned
  • 1998 - Stem Cell Therapy - James Thomson

2000 – present

  • 26 June 2000 - Human Genome draft completed
  • 2001 Telesurgery - Jacques Marescaux
  • 2003 – Carlo Urbani, of Doctors without Borders alerted the World Health Organization to the threat of the SARS virus, triggering the most effective response to an epidemic in history. Urbani succumbs to the disease himself in less than a month.
  • 2005 – Jean-Michel Dubernard performs the first partial face transplant
  • 2006 – First HPV vaccine approved
  • 2006 – Second rotavirus vaccine approved (first was withdrawn)
  • 2007 - Visual prosthetic (bionic eye) Argus II
  • 2008 – Laurent Lantieri performs the first full face transplant
  • 2013 - First kidney grown in vitro in the U.S.
  • 2013 - First human liver grown from stem cells in Japan
  • 2014 - Great Ebola Outbreak - First cases and deaths in Europe and America

Anatomy of the heart

Anatomy of the heart (1890) by Enrique Simonet.

Images from the National Museum of Health and Medicine

These photographs were taken at The National Museum of Health and Medicine on the grounds of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. Since that time, Walter Reed has closed and the museum has moved to a new, but smaller, site in Silver Springs MD.

Hanaoka Seishu's Surgical Casebook

“A Surgical Casebook” is a manuscript of hand-painted pictures commissioned by Hanaoka Seishu, a pioneering Japanese surgeon who was the first to use general anesthesia to remove tumors from cancer patients. The colorful, often charming, pictures in this casebook capture the likenesses of the men and women who came to Hanaoka for treatment; and, importantly, they depict, quite graphically, the medical and surgical problem to be treated. Clearly, Hanaoka engaged an artist of considerable talent to make a visual document of the patient’s condition before surgery. This suggests a local artist or an artistically-talented medical associate, because Hanaoka would have encountered the patients depicted in this book over a period of many years. The labels attached to the pictures provide information about a patient’s place of residence, occasionally his or her name and livelihood, and sometimes a diagnosis.

Hanaoka Seishu’s fame is based on his invention of an oral anesthesia that could render a patient unconscious for long enough to allow him to remove deep tumors. Hanaoka was born to a physician’s family in Kii Province (today’s Wakayama Prefecture), a remote, mountainous region of south central Japan, in 1760. At age twenty-two he went to Kyoto, where he studied both traditional Chinese-style medicine and Western-style surgical techniques; at age twenty-five he took over the family business and began to practice an eclectic style of medicine that combined these two traditions. He was greatly concerned with his inability to treat cancer patients, and over a period of twenty years he developed an herbal concoction he called ‘mafutsusan.’ It was made up of several highly toxic plants, including Korean asagao, Japanese aconite, Chinese angelica, and Arisaema japonicum, among others. It did not include opium derivatives which were only beginning to be identified by European doctors. The herbs were ground into a paste, boiled with water, and administered to the patient by mouth well before the surgery. The narcotic effects of this anesthetic could last as long as 24 hours, allowing him to surgically remove many different kinds of tumors which previously had been inoperable (Access the book).