Chinese do craniotomy 5,000 years ago

A skull, on which a true craniotomy was performed 5,000 years ago, has been recently put on display in Shandong Museum. It is believed to be evidence of the earliest successful craniotomy, operation on the skull, performed in China according to available records so far.

In 1995, the skull was unearthed from a site of ancient cultural relics named Fujia Dawenkou in Guangrao, a county in eastern China's Shandong Province, some 5,000 years old. In 2001, the archaeologists found a 31 mm * 25 mm circular defect on the top right side of the back of the skull when collating human bone specimens. After years of study and research, experts and scholars presume that the defect was caused by an artificial craniotomy. The edge of the transection was smooth and had an uniform arc shape, which should be the result of bone tissue repair over a period of time for recovery after surgery.

This is a "masterpiece" of craniotomy from 5,000 year ago. The smooth but sharp edge of the defect indicates that the "window" should have resulted from an artificial craniotomy, not trauma. The inhabitant of the tomb did not die immediately after the craniotomy, but had survived for at least more than two years. This shows that Chinese neurosurgery technique was quite advanced at that time.

Records show that bone windows have been found in skulls, unearthed in France and Peru, from 4,600 years ago. Archaeologists believe that people might have used sharp, stone tools at that time. China also has a historical record in surgery. The famous doctor is named Hua Tuo, who lived in the Three Kingdoms era. The skull on display this time is evidence of the earliest craniotomy on record both in China and in the world.

By People's Daily Online



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