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Al-Zahrawi copied most of bis medical procedures and medical instruments from the Romans and Byzantines
Al-Zahrawi was not the first to write that hemophilia ran in families. Jews knew this in the 2nd century.

Al-Zahrawi’s leverage method for treating dislocated shoulders was  depicted in a 1200 BC wall painting in an Egyptian tomb. Al-Zahrawi was not the first to use cotton to stop bleeding and was not the first to put broken arms into casts.

He did, however, invent a procedure, using a red-hot needle, to create a pathway to divert urine to the anus.
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Roman surgical instruments were nearly identical to those later used by Muslim surgeons.

It has been claimed that al-Zahrawi invented over 100 medical instruments. Nearly all of these were minor changes to the shape of Roman and Byzantine medical instruments.
The Iranian medical establishment does not claim al-Zahrawi invented all these instruments, but merely falsely claims he invented the catheter.
Al-Zahrawi did not invent the scalpel sharp on both sides. At the top of the first illustration at
is shown a Roman scalpel sharp on both sides.

The claim that al-Zahrawi wrote the first book with illustrations of surgical instruments is likely true.
But the Sushruta Samhita many centuries earlier gave detailed descriptions of surgical instruments, including an endoscope device with a mirror to look inside body cavities.
The bone saw and surgical hooks were not invented by al-Zahrawi; they had been used in the Roman Empire.

Al-Zahrawi invented an instrument to apply a caustic substance to a wart, although spoons for applying a salve were in use in Roman times.


Scissors were in use in ancient Egypt in the 1500 BC, and were used in surgery by the Romans. Delicate forceps (that look somewhat like scissors) for grasping things were used by Greek and Roman surgeons. Muslims of the Islamic Golden Golden Age did not use delicate cutting scissors in eye surgery. These were almost certainly Roman delicate forceps, not delicate cutting tools. The Damascus steel (invented by Hindus in India) was not strong enough to make delicate cutting surgical instruments. Such delicate cutting surgical instruments were not used until after Pierre Berthier in France invented high-chromium “stainless” steel (also called razor blade steel) in 1821.

A late 10th century Arab Muslim
physician and alchemist was al-Zahrawi (Albucasis) (936 – 1013) in Muslim Spain.
Most of the medical procedures al-Zahrawi described in the medical encyclopedia he wrote were based on procedures written by Paul of Aegina (Paulus Aegineta), the 7th-century Byzantine Greek physician who wrote “Medical Compendium in Seven Books”. Paul of Aegina (625-690 AD) practiced medicine in Alexandria Egypt before it was conquered by Muslim Arabs.
Al-Zahrawi later described the procedures in greater detail and added some new procedures and medical instruments of his own.

Al-Zahrawi’s book on surgery was translated into English, but locating a copy is difficult.
(1973). “Albucasis on surgery and instruments”. ISBN 978-0-520-01532-6

Al-Zahrawi was not the first to write that hemophilia ran in families. The 2nd century Jewish Talmud had waived circumcision if male relatives had hemophilia.

I found no evidence to support the “1001 Inventions” claim that al-Zahrawi made medical capsules from catgut. I did, however, locate a source that said al-Zahrawi made pills containing a mixture of powders (not a Muslim invention), and in the next sentence says al-Zahrawi used catgut in surgical sutures that would slowly be dissolved by the body, so perhaps one of the authors of ‘1001 Inventions” misread the paragraph and thought catgut was used to create a drug capsule that dissolves slowly.
His use of catgut surgical sutures was borrowed from Galen of Pergamon (2nd century Greek physician in the Roman Empire). Catgut stitches were usually actually made from guts of sheep.
Al-Zahrawi’s use of catgut sutures to tie an artery shut (ligation) to prevent bleeding to death during an amputation was copied from Byzantine Empire medicine.

Al-Zahrawi’s leverage for treating dislocated shoulders was  depicted in a 1200 BC wall painting in the Egyptian tomb of Ipuy. The same procedure was used in the 1800’s by Theodor Kocher.

The varicose vein surgery that al-Zahrawi copied from the Byzantines is described at

Al-Zahrawi’s contribution to neurosurgery is that he performed spinal surgery but Greeks and Byzantines had done this centuries earlier.

Al-Zahrawi wrote in great detail about using red hot cauterization needles to open a pathway for pus to drain from abscesses. Cauterization needles and many other surgical instruments used by al-Zahrawi were in use in Roman times.

Al-Zahrawi’s use of cauterization to destroy cancerous tissue was not new; the Roman surgeon Celsus had also done this.
Al-Zahrawi was not the first physician to use cauterization to seal small blood vessels.
According to the Wikipedia article on cauterization, Hippocrates wrote that cauterization was used to stop heavy bleeding, especially during amputations. “The procedure was simple: a piece of metal was heated over fire and applied to the wound. This would cause tissues and blood to heat rapidly to extreme temperatures in turn causing coagulation of the blood thus controlling the bleeding“
According to Wikipedia, the Romans used cautery as a bloodless knife and to destroy tumors. “The cautery was employed for almost every possible purpose in ancient
times: as a counterirritant, as a haemostatic, as a bloodless knife, as a means of destroying tumours”.

Al-Zahrawi was not the first to use unprocessed short-fiber cotton (the correct technical word for it is lint) to control bleeding. The Roman surgeon Celsus used lint to stop bleeding.
and the ancient Egyptians also did this.

Muslims claim al-Zahrawi was the first to place casts of cloth stiffened with plaster around broken bones. Actually, Celsus wrote in his Roman medical encyclopedia “De Medicina” about similar orthopedic casts, but with the cloth stiffened with starch instead of plaster.

Al-Zahrawi was not the first to perform breast size reduction (gynecomastia) surgery (often on men). He copied breast size reduction surgery from the medical books written by Paul of Aegina.

Al-Zahrawi performed surgery diverting urine to the rectum, perhaps by using a red hot cauterization needle to open a pathway.

Debridement (removing dead tissue before closing a wound) had been done by Oribasius and Paul of Aegina long before the time of al-Zahrawi.

Al-Zahrawi marked the site of surgery with ink.

Image by Giorgio Sommer, via Wikimedia Commons.
image credit,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n._11141_-_Museo_di_Napoli_-_Strumenti_di_chirurgia.jpg

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