Trepanation was done more skillfully than in the United States from the mid-19th century.
The years of excavations in Peru, were found more than 800 ancient skulls with signs of trepanation (drilling holes in the bones of the skull). This procedure was not unique either in those ages or later, but never produced so masterfully, as in Peru.
In the new study, the results of which were published recently in the journal “World Neurosurgery”, it turned out that the percentage mortality after trepanation in ancient Peru was only 17-25%, while during the Civil war (1861-1865 years), this percentage was 46-56%.
Some of the Peruvian skulls with trepanation were more than 2 thousand years, so even in those years the local surgeons owned high-quality medical knowledge in this field, in this case made their operations without precision tools and perhaps without anesthesia.
Scientists suggest that trepanning in those years was considered necessary to deal with the headaches and for the treatment of mental illness. In some cases soskablivanie only a small part of my skull, doing a full-fledged hole.
“We still have a lot of things unknown about how and why people were doing trepanation in Peru, but when the trepanation was done for the wounded during the American Civil war, people died from them more often compared to the ancient Incas,” says Professor David Kushner from the University of Miami – “Between 17-25% mortality by the Incas and 46-56% of Americans have very big difference, and the question arises – how the ancient Peruvian surgeons have achieved such results that far exceeded the work of skilled American surgeons?”
Hundreds of Peruvian skulls with signs of trepanation have been found mainly in the burial caves during excavations in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was found over 800 skulls and such is much greater than in other countries of the world combined.
One of the assumptions, the most important role in high survival in ancient Peru probably played health. Probably Peruvian surgeons carefully prepared for each transaction and acted with clean hands and tools while the operations during the Civil war often carried out practically on the field of battle and non-sterile instruments.
“But we don’t know how the ancient Peruvians carried out disinfection and managed to maintain a high level of hygiene,” says Professor Kushner, “We don’t know whether they used any anesthetic or painkillers and what they used. Maybe it was the Coca leaves”.
The researchers found that the level of the Peruvian surgeons were so high that they very accurately performed incisions and does not touch the protective Dura. And it was possible even to trace when exactly the Peruvian surgeons learned to do such operations.
In the 400-200 BC survival after trepanation in ancient Peru were not very high. But then about 2 thousand years ago, surgeons have perfected their skills in the 1000-1400 years BC, the survival rate for trepanation even jumped to 91%. The Empire of the Incas (XI—XVI century), the survival rate averaged 75-83%.
“It seems that they learned very well the anatomy of the human head and deliberately did holes where there could be high risk of bleeding. They also quickly realized that the smaller the hole, the greater the chance of survival of the patient. Their level was truly amazing,” says David Kushner.