Trepanation Surgeries During Inca Empire Were Two Time More Successful Than Medical Practices During Civil War


Trepanation was performed so skillfully in ancient Peru that the rate of survival in the Inca Empire was two times higher than during the American Civil War, which took place 300 years later.

“There are still many unknowns about the procedure and the people who underwent trepanation, but the results during the Civil War were sad compared to Inca times. In Inca times, the death rate was between 17 and 25 percent, and during the Civil War, it was between 46 and 56 percent. The question is how did former Peruvian surgeons have results that far surpassed those of surgeons during the American Civil War?” stated David S. Kushner, a neurologist and a professor from the University of Miami.

Careful Inca Empire’s doctors Vs. Civil War sloppy doctors

Davis S. Kushner and his co-workers carried out a study to find an answer to the question Kushner has asked himself so many times.

However, the lack of hygiene during the Civil War might have been responsible for the higher mortality rates than during the trepanation surgeries performed during the Inca Empire, the researchers think.

“If there was an opening in the skull, they would stick a finger into the wound looking for clots and bone fragments,” Kushner said, referring to the Civil War doctors. Additionally, the majority of injured Civil War soldiers died due to infections.

On the other hand, the Inca doctors were much careful during trepanation surgeries and even used anesthetics but the researchers could pinpoint exactly what types of plants the ancient Peruvians used.

The ancient Inca doctors had a lot of practice in trepanation surgeries

Over 800 ancient skulls with trepanation evidence have been uncovered in coastal areas and the Andean highlands of Peru, the earliest of them dating back to about 400 BC.

The authors of the study evaluated the rate of survival by grading the extent of bone reshaping that occurred in the area surrounding the holes, suggesting scarring. If no evidence of healing was found, the investigators presumed that the person died within a few days of the surgery.

These categorizations demonstrate that ancient Inca doctors have greatly enhanced their trepanation skills throughout the centuries. They have learned, for instance, not to drill through into the protective lining around the brain, a guideline that Hippocrates crafted in ancient Greece, around 500 BC, precisely when the trepanation surgeries commenced in ancient Inca Empire.

Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. On their farm, Jan and her family use corgis as herding dogs and have raised Shetland sheep, Fainting goats, Morgan and Trakehner horses, and historic breeds of chickens and turkeys. Erin is also an active beekeeper.


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