Many women have learned about the preventive surgeries Angelina Jolie has had to lower her risk for cancer that involved removal of the actress’s fallopian tubes and uterus. However, many individuals fail to realize that these procedures are now available and safe for most patients.
Throughout history, women have been unable to have surgery for various gynecological situations, or undergo procedures without receiving anesthesia. Here’s a look at the history of gynecology.
Ancient Egyptians made the first gynecological diagnosis
The Ebers Papyrus of the Ancient Egyptians (1800 BC) first mentions dealings with problems in a woman’s reproductive system using medicine. However, the Egyptians were loath to cut into any tumors or cancers not present on the surface. According to the translation of the text, they may have even tried “treating it with fire.”
Ancient Greeks performed “plug and hook” procedures on the uterus
Greek theories involving the female genitalia and reproductive system were very involved and confusing. Greek physician Hippocrates had a theory that women’s wombs could move about the body and be lured to a particular location using “fragrant smells.”
Ancient Greece’s great authority on gynaecology Soranus (approx. 100 AD) recorded his performance of surgery on women’s reproductive systems. He thought that hemorrhage of the uterus was unfixable, and used his fingers, hooks, and plugs of gauze unsuccessfully.
Renaissance surgeons improved women’s surgery
Leonardo Da Vinci drew sketches in great detail of the female pelvic anatomy for the first time, and others followed with anatomical sketches of the uterine canal. These sketches showed everyone where things were, and helped surgeons go as far as they wanted to with certain procedures.
A French surgeon named Ambroise Pare was a great obstetrician who used leeches to help resolve problems with the cervix. Pare treated lesions with mixtures of pomegranate juice and leeks, and recommended the amputation of a cervix if diseased.
First ovarian tumor removed safely in 1809
Dubbed “the father of ovariotomy,” American doctor Ephraim McDowell was the first to remove a tumor from an ovary without causing mortality in the attached patient. The tumor weighed 22.5 pounds and would have killed its owner had he not removed it in 1809. The procedure was performed without the use of anesthesia.
The first hysterectomy was performed in 1813
A German surgeon named Conrad Lagenbeck was the first to remove a uterus successfully in 1813, but no one believed him. None of the other doctors thought it could be done, and unfortunately, Lagenbeck couldn’t prove it because his assistant died and the uterus was lost.
Twenty-eight years later, the patient passed away, and her body was autopsied to find that she did in fact have her uterus removed. Since then, gynecological surgeries have continued to advance and help many women.
Read more about the history of gynecological surgery on Bustle.
CarePoint Health is dedicated to providing women with top-tier, comprehensive gynecological care. To learn more about our gynecological and women’s services, contact CarePoint Health at 1-201-791-7000 or visit our website to find a doctor.
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