History of Varicose Vein Surgery Part 2 | Minnesota

The University of Cordoba in the Arabs produced one of the most famous surgeons. He was known to the western culture as Albucasis (930 AD to 1313 AD). He became a prominent surgeon during that era. He was appointed as the Court-Physician of King Abdel-Rahman III. Besides his practice of medicine he also did a lot of medical and surgical writings.

He wrote thirty volumes of a digest of vast medical knowledge called Tasrif. He is also known for writing the best medieval surgical encyclopedia on record. It dealt with all aspects of surgery and was the first textbook of surgery to include illustrations of instruments to be used in surgery. It became very famous as it was the standard textbook of surgery used up to the 17th century in prestigious western universities. His medical and surgical expertise was evident in his writings of exact details of clinical and surgical procedures. His writings described the binding of the arteries long before any other physicians. His descriptions of varicose vein stripping are almost like our modern day surgeries for the veins.

The progress of medical science and surgery stalled for about 350 years after 13th century when barber surgeons routinely performed surgeries. In 16th century, the ligation at the site of the varix became the preferred varicose vein surgery. A century later, the combination of bleeding, diet and application of bandages to the legs was recommended by a German surgeon, Lorenz Heister, to avoid varicose vein surgery.

In the mid 1600’s intravenous drugs were first introduced. Opium was put into the vein of a dog using a metal tube and was successful. The hypodermic syringe did not appear until 1851. The introduction of anesthesia and antiseptics, delivered by the hypodermic syringe, brought about great changes in the treatment of varicose veins. In the 1850’s injections really took off and the treatment of veins by injection was becoming popular. The injections were either perchloride of iron or iodine. The perchloride of iron seemed to cause inflammation and swelling. In order to help correct this, the use of compression was advised in order to prevent dilation of the veins. In 1894, due to the high numbers of complications from this treatment, treating varicose veins by injection was abandoned.

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