The "Kitab al-Tasrif" (
Arabic,كتاب التفسير) ("The Method of Medicine") was an influential Arabic medical encyclopedia on medicineand surgery, written near the year 1000CE by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (Abulcasis), the "father of modern surgery". The 30-volume work includes anatomical descriptions, classifications of diseases, information on nutritionand surgery, and sections on medicine, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, pharmacology, nutrition, and especially surgery. [Dr. Monzur Ahmed, [http://www.ummah.net/history/scholars/el_zahrawi El Zahrawi (Albucasis) - father of surgery] , "Muslim Technologist", August 1990.]
Western world, the book was known by the Latintitle "Concessio ei data qui componere haud valet". For at least six centuries, it remained an important medical practice guide for doctors and surgeons in both the Islamic world and medieval Europe.
The "Kitab al-Tasrif" covered a broad range of medical topics, including
dentistryand childbirth, which contained data that had accumulated during a career that spanned almost 50 years of training, teaching and practice. In it he also wrote of the importance of a positive doctor-patient relationshipand wrote affectionately of his students, whom he referred to as "my children". He also emphasised the importance of treating patients irrespective of their social status. He encouraged the close observation of individual cases in order to make the most accurate diagnosis and the best possible treatment.
Not always properly credited, Abu Al-Qasim's "al-Tasrif" described both what would later became known as "Kocher's method" for treating a dislocated shoulder and "Walcher position" in
obstetrics. "Al-Tasrif" described how to ligature blood vessels before Ambroise Paré, and was the first recorded book to document several dental devices and explain the hereditary nature of haemophilia.
"Al-Tasrif" was later translated into
Latinby Gerard of Cremonain the 12th century, and illustrated. For perhaps five centuries during the European Middle Ages, it was the primary source for European medical knowledge, and served as a reference for doctors and surgeons.
In the 14th century, French surgeon
Guy de Chauliacquoted "al-Tasrif" over 200 times. Pietro Argallata (d. 1453) described Abu al-Qasim as "without doubt the chief of all surgeons". In an earlier work, he is credited to be the first to describe ectopic pregnancyin 963, in those days a fatal affliction. Abu Al-Qasim's influence continued for at least five centuries, extending into the Renaissance, evidenced by "al-Tasrif" 's frequent reference by French surgeon Jaques Delechamps (1513-1588).
Advances in Surgery
Abu al-Qasim was a surgeon and specialized in curing disease by
cauterization. He also invented several devices used during surgery, for the purpose of:
* inspection of the interior of the
* applying and removing foreign bodies from the
* inspection of the
Abu al-Qasim also described the use of
forcepsin vaginal deliveries. [Assisted delivery has walked a long and winding road, OBG Management, Vol. 19, No. 6, June 2007, p. 84. ]
dentistryand dental restoration, the earliest medical text to deal with dental surgeryin detail was the "Al-Tasrif" by Abulcasis. He gave detailed methods for the successful replantation of dislodged teeth. [Henry W. Noble, PhD (2002), [http://www.rcpsg.ac.uk/hdrg/2002oct4.htm Tooth transplantation: a controversial story] , History of Dentistry Research Group, Scottish Society for the History of Medicine.]
Abu al-Qasim was influential in the revival of
dissectionin the study of anatomyand surgery. He emphasizes the importance of dissection in the surgical chapter of the "Al-Tasrif": [citation|first=Emilie|last=Savage-Smith|title=Attitudes Toward Dissection in Medieval Islam|journal=Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences|year=1995|volume=50|issue=1|publisher= Oxford University Press|pages=67–110  |doi=10.1093/jhmas/50.1.67]
Lithotomy and Urology
urologyand lithotomy, Abulcasis performed the first successful extraction of bladder and kidney stones from the urinary bladderusing a new instrument he invented—a lithotomy scalpelwith two sharp cutting edges—and a new technique he invented—perineal [http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/cystolithotomy cystolithotomy] —which allowed him to crush a large stone inside the bladder, "enabling its piecemeal removal." This innovation was important to the development of bladder stone surgery as it significantly decreased the deathrates previously caused by earlier attempts at this operation by the ancients.Abdul Nasser Kaadan PhD, "Albucasis and Extraction of Bladder Stone", "Jounal of the International Society for the History of Islamic Medicine", 2004 (3): 28-33.]
Abulcasis developed material and technical designs which are still used in
neurosurgery.Martin-Araguz, A.; Bustamante-Martinez, C.; Fernandez-Armayor, Ajo V.; Moreno-Martinez, J. M. (2002). "Neuroscience in al-Andalus and its influence on medieval scholastic medicine", "Revista de neurología" 34 (9), p. 877-892.]
Abulcasis made the first advances in
plastic surgerysince the time of Sushrutain ancient India. Abulcasis developed the methods of incision, the use of silkthread
suture to achieve good
cosmesis, and invented the surgical procedure of reduction mammoplastyfor the management of gynecomastia. [citation|last=Ahmad|first=Z. ( St Thomas' Hospital)|title=Al-Zahrawi - The Father of Surgery|journal=ANZ Journal of Surgery|year=2007|volume=77|issue=Suppl. 1|page=A83|doi=10.1111/j.1445-2197.2007.04130_8.x|pages=A83]
In his "Al-Tasrif", al-Zahrawi introduced his famous collection of over 200
surgical instruments. Many of these instruments were never used before by any previous surgeons. Hamidan, for example, listed at least twenty six innovative surgical instruments that Abulcasis introduced.
Adhesive bandage and Plaster
Abu al-Qasim invented the modern
plasterand adhesive bandage, which are still used in hospitals throughout the world.Zafarul-Islam Khan, [http://milligazette.com/Archives/15-1-2000/Art5.htm At The Threshhold (sic) Of A New Millennium – II] , "The Milli Gazette".] The use of plasters for fractures became a standard practice for Arab physicians, though this practice was not widely adopted in Europe until the 19th century.
Catgut and Forceps
Abu al-Qasim's use of catgutfor internal stitching is still practised in modern surgery. The catgutappears to be the only natural substance capable of dissolving and is acceptable by the body
Abu al-Qasim invented the
forcepsfor extracting a dead fetus, as illustrated in the "Al-Tasrif". [Ingrid Hehmeyer and Aliya Khan (2007). "Islam's forgotten contributions to medical science", "Canadian Medical Association Journal" 176 (10).]
Cautery and Ligature
A special medical instrument called a cauter, used for the
cauterizationof arteries, was first described by Abu al-Qasim in his "Kitab al-Tasrif". [Mohamed Kamel Hussein (1978), "The Concise History of Medicine and Pharmacy" ( cf.Mostafa Shehata, "The Father Of Islamic Medicine: An International Questionnaire", "Journal of the International Society for the History of Islamic Medicine", 2002 (2): 58-59  )]
In the "Al-Tasrif", Abu al-Qasim also introduced the use of ligature for the
bloodcontrol of arteries in lieu of cauterization. [Rabie E. Abdel-Halim, Ali S. Altwaijiri, Salah R. Elfaqih, Ahmad H. Mitwall (2003), "Extraction of urinary bladder described" by Abul-Qasim Khalaf Alzahrawi (Albucasis) (325-404 H, 930-1013 AD)", "Saudi Medical Journal" 24 (12): 1283-1291  .]
Al Zahrawi was the first surgeon to make use of
cotton(which itself is derived from the Arabic word "qutn") as a medical dressing for controlling hemorrhage.
Lithotomy scalpel and Surgical needle
Abulcasis invented a
lithotomy scalpelwith two sharp cutting edges in order to perform the first successful extraction of bladder and kidney stones from the urinary bladder.
The surgical needle was invented and described by Abu al-Qasim in his "Al-Tasrif".A. I. Makki. "Needles & Pins", "AlShindagah" 68, January-February 2006.]
Other surgical instruments invented by Abu al-Qasim and first described in his "Al-Tasrif" include the
scalpel, curette, retractor, surgical spoon, sound, surgical hook, surgical rod, and specula. [Khaled al-Hadidi (1978), "The Role of Muslem Scholars in Oto-rhino-Laryngology", "The Egyptian Journal of O.R.L." 4 (1), p. 1-15. ( cf.[http://muslimheritage.com/topics/default.cfm?ArticleID=674 Ear, Nose and Throat Medical Practice in Muslim Heritage] , Foundation for Science Technology and Civilization.)]
Chemistry and Cosmetology
Al-Zahrawi was also a chemist and dedicated a chapter of the 19th volume of his "Kitab al-Tasrif" to
cosmetology, The medicated cosmeticshe invented include under-arm deodorants, hair removalsticks, hand lotions, hair dyes for changing human hair colorto blondor black hair, hair carefor correcting kinky or curly hair, and early suntan lotions, describing their ingredients and benefits in depth. As a remedy for bad breath resulting from eating garlicor onions, he suggested cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamomand chewing on corianderleaves.cite web|title=Muslim Contribution to Cosmetics|url=http://muslimheritage.com/topics/default.cfm?ArticleID=364|publisher=FSTC Limited|date=2003-05-20|accessdate=2008-01-29]
Other cosmetics he invented include solid
lipsticks which were perfumed stocks rolled and pressed in special moulds, and mineral oils used for medicationpurposes as well as aesthetic and beautificationpurposes. He also described the care and beautification of hair, skin, teethand other parts of the body, which were all recommended in Islamic hadiths.
cosmetic dentistry, he described methods for strengthening the gums as well as the method of tooth bleachingusing tooth whiteners.
The "al-Tasrif" introduced the modern cultural tradition of taking
flowers whenever visiting the sick in hospital ( Bimaristan).
He made several advances in
perfumery and invented perfumed stocks, rolled and pressed in special moulds, similar to modern roll-on deodorants. [ [http://english.webislam.com/pdf/pdf.asp?idt=1469 How Islam invented a bright new world] , "The Herald", 25/10/2007.]
He also recommended that after
laundry, clothing should be in a room full of incenseor perfume, so that the clothes will give a pleasant fragrance.
Al-Zahrawi developed a variety of
medications, which he described in his chapter on cosmetics. For epilepsyand seizures, he invented medications called "Ghawali" and "Lafayfe". For the relief and treatment of common colds, he invented "Muthallaathat", which was prepared from camphor, muskand honey, similar to modern VicksVapour Rub. He also invented nasal sprays and hand cream, and developed effective mouth washes.
hematology, al-Zahrawi wrote the first description on haemophiliain his "al-Tasrif", in which he wrote of an Andalusian family whose males died of bleeding after minor injuries.Patricia Skinner (2001), [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g2603/is_0007/ai_2603000716 Unani-tibbi] , "Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine"]
* [http://www.islamset.com/isc/zahrawi/awadain.html#awaid3 Al-Tasrif] - islamset.com
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