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Albucasis (Doctor - the Father of Modern Surgery)

He was also known, according to the translations, by the name of Abul-Qasim Khakaf ibn alAbbas al Zahravi, Al-Zahrawi, Albu-Massim, Albucassis, Abucasis and many other variations.

Albucasis was born around the year 936 in Medinat al-Zahra (Medina Azahara), a city close to Cordoba which was razed to the ground during the Reconquest, a few years after his death in 1013. It was here where he lived and worked as doctor to the court of the Caliph Al-Hakam II.

As far as his medical practice is concerned, the records tell how Albucasis stressed the importance of the doctor-patient relationship and always strove to gain the patient's complete trust, regardless of their social status. His writings reveal a caring attitude to his patients, treating each case individually in order to diagnose the illness more accurately and provide more effective treatment, and always following a series of basic ethical rules.

His best-known work was the medical-surgical encyclopaedia, the Kitab al-Tasrif (Medical Methods), also known simply as Al-Tasrif - the title in Latin was "Concessio ei data qui componere haud valet". This treatise is a compilation of his 50 years' experience in medicine and surgery with influences from other publications - it must not be forgotten that Albucasis never left his home region in all his life. The Al-Tasrif was published in the year 1000 and consists of a total of 1,500 pages divided into 30 volumes, with the longest and most detailed volumes on the subject of surgery. The Al-Tasrif deals with matters connected with illnesses, anatomy, pharmacology, nutrition, surgery, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, obstetrics, etc. It is also famous for being the first book published with illustrations of surgical instruments, about 200 in all, many of which were invented by Albucasis himself - these range from tongue retractors to obstetrician's forceps or tooth extractors. In the first volumes, later translated to Latin separately under the name "Liber Thoricae", Albucasis describes 325 illnesses with their symptoms and treatments, among which is the very first description of haemophilia.

In Volume 28, "Liber servitoris de preeparatione medicinarum simplicium", he describes how medicines are made, chemist's techniques, magistral formulae and so on. However, by far the longest part deals with surgery - its techniques, instruments and pathology. Albucasis described for the first time how to treat a dislocated shoulder, a method developed and made widely known by Kocher in the 19th century; the treatment of an ectopic pregnancy; the technique of mammoplasty for reducing breast size; the extraction of cataracts; gallstones; cauterizing techniques; surgery and dental prosthesis and many more.

The invention of the urethrascope has been attributed to him, as well as a wide range of instruments including tweezers for inspecting the mouth and the inner ear, forceps, the use of catgut thread for internal stitches, the surgical needle, the scalpel and the speculum.

His work was an essential reference book in European universities for around 500 years. The first translation into Latin was made by Gerard of Cremona (1114-1187), at least 10 editions of which were published in the first 50 years, and the last edition was published in 1778 in Oxford. These are just some of the reasons why he has been considered "the Father of Modern Medicine".

In the city of Cordoba there is a street close to the Mosque named after Albucasis and in the Calahorra Tower Museum, crossing over the Roman Bridge to the other side of the River Guadalquivir, there is a display of 200 of the surgical instruments he described, made of gold.

Ayuntamiento de Córdoba