This Woman Survived Ear Surgery Using Stone Instruments

ONE A 5,300-year-old skull from Spain has disclosure possibly the world’s oldest example of ear surgery. Excavations in Reinoso, northern Spain, have unearthed skulls as part of the mass graves of more than a hundred individuals with various pathologies. The skull has been perforated several times, presumably to relieve pain and pressure from an ear infection, and – given the woman’s life after surgical interventions – is thus the earliest example of an ear infection. a successful ear surgery.

The skull was found in a cave as part of an excavation of a fourth millennium BC megalithic monument conducted by the University of Valladolid. The team published their findings in the journal Scientific reports. The woman’s skull shows evidence of surgical intervention through bending in both her ears. This procedure was first performed on her right ear before a subsequent procedure on her left was performed. Seven cuts at the surgical margin in her left ear confirm that the holes in her skull were the result of surgical intervention (a mastectomy) rather than accidental or intentional injury. The fact that the bone in her right ear has healed is an indication that she survived the procedure.

Manuel Rojo Guerra, one of the project’s principal researchers, speak that it “must be performed by professionals or individuals with certain anatomical knowledge and accumulated therapeutic experience.” After ruling out other potential diagnoses, including a tumor, the scientific team that studied the skull concluded that she may have a middle ear infection that causes severe pain and fever. If left untreated, fluid that builds up behind the eardrum can lead to hearing loss and even life-threatening inflammation.

ÑFotógrafos Photography Research / Scientific Reports

Surgery is not for the faint of heart. The woman, estimated by scientists to be between 35 and 50 years old, should have been restrained and immobilized during the surgery. It is possible, although not provable, that some type of plant-based sedation was used first. The surgery itself would be extremely painful and (given the age of the site where the skull was found) would be done with an almost certainly stone instrument made of flint.

Although surgical procedures to relieve pressure and fluid accumulation are now common and relative risk-free, they only became popular in the late 19th century. Before that, the first documented description of the procedure came from the famous 16th-century French physician Ambroise Paré. He apparently recommended the treatment to French king François II in 1560, but François’ mother, Catherine de Medici, forbade it. François eventually died of an ear infection, but it was hardly Paré’s fault. The result is, Credit The first successful mastectomy went to French surgeon Jean-Louis Petit. By the 20th century, and even before the widespread use of antibiotics, the procedure was widespread. Surgeon Francis Sooy in San Francisco report that until 1940, he regularly saw patients in the morning, before crossing the street to surgically drain several ear abscesses in the afternoon.

There are good reasons to think that ear surgery begins much earlier. The image of a doctor cutting his hair casually operated on his ear date to the early 16th century, but the real pioneer was the second-century Greek-speaking physician Galen of Pergamum. Galen, who recognized the general benefits of draining an abscess, may suggest this procedure in his writings, but there is much debate as to whether he ever performed the surgery himself. are not.

Even without surgery, there are plenty of edible ancient remedies for ear ailments. Galen prescribed honey to treat earaches. Because seasonal allergies can be irritating to the ears and some people think this can be decrease by ingesting local honey, it is possible (though unlikely) that some patients may actually benefit from this treatment. Galen also suggests that a less palatable treatment for earaches is to boil dung beetle in olive oil and drip the resulting mixture into the affected ear. This treatment is remarkable because sometimes beetles are known to aggression ear — and rectum, but that’s a whole different story — with unexpected results. Close the nets at night, people.

Like so much ancient medicine, many treatments would be devised and performed by women at home. As Laura Zucconi notes in her History of Ancient Medicine, the most noted healer of the Talmud, the stepmother of Clergy Abaye, was said to have an effective cure for heart problems, fevers, scorpion bites, and ear infections. Whether any of these treatments work is another story entirely, while eye surgery (especially cataract surgery) has been well documented in ancient times. , ear infections are nearly impossible to treat without antibiotics.

In the case of the 5,300-year-old woman who survived at least her first procedure, it proves that there were some adept and sophisticated medicalists in Spain in the fourth millennium BC. Whether she would agree to treatment is a completely different question to which we will never know the answer. She seems to have survived at least as well as her buried friends, whose numerous injuries and pathologies have yet to be fully studied.

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