Abul Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbas al-Zahrawi (known in thewest as Abulcasis) was born in 9 36 A.D. in Zahra in the neighbour-hood of Cordova. He became one of the most renowned surgeonsof the Muslim era and was physician to King Al-Hakam-II of Spain.After a long medical career, rich with significant original contribu-tion, he died in 1013 A.D.< /P>
He is best known for his early and original breakthroughs insurgery as well as for his famous Medical Ecyclopaedia calledAl-Tasrif, which is composed of thirty volumes covering differentaspects of medical science. The more important part of t his seriescomprises three books on surgery, which describe in detail variousaspects of surgical treatment as based on the operations performedby him, including cauterization, removal of stone from the bladder,dissection of animals, midwifery, stypics, and surgery of eye, ear andthroat. He perfected several delicate operations, including removalof the dead foetus and amputation.
Al-Tasrif was first translated by Gherard of Cremona into Latinin the Middle Ages. It was followed by several other editors inEurope. The book contains numerous diagrams and illustrations ofsurgical instruments, in use or developed by him, and compriseda part of the medical curriculum in European countries for manycenturies. Contrary to the view that the Muslims fought shy ofsurgery, Al-Zahrawi's Al-Tasrif provided a monumental collectionfor this branch of applied science.
Al-Zahrawi was the inventor of several surgical instruments, ofwhich three are notable: (i) an instrument for internal examina-tion of the ear, (ii) an instrument for internal inspection of theurethra, and (iii) and instrument for applying or removing foreignbodies from the throat. He specialized in curing disease by cauteriza-tion and applied the technique to as many as 50 differentoper ations.
In his book Al-Tasrif, Al-Zahrawi has also discussed the prepara-tion of various medicines, in addition to a comprehensive accountof surgical treatment in specialized branches, whose modern counter-parts are E.N.T., Ophthalmology, etc . In connection with thepreparation of medicines, he has also described in detail the applica-tion of such techniques as sublimation and decantation. Al-Zahrawiwas also an expert in dentistry, and his book contains sketches ofvarious instruments used ther eof, in addition to a description ofvarious important dental operations. He discussed the problem ofnon-aligned or deformed teeth and how to rectify these defects.He developed the technique of preparing artificial teeth and ofreplacement of defective teet h by these. In medicine, he was thefirst to describe in detail the unusual disease, haemophelia.
There can be no doubt that Al-Zahrawi influenced the field ofmedicine and surgery very deeply and the principles laid down byhim were recognized as auth entic in medical science, especiallysurgery, and these continued to influence the medical world for fivecenturies. According to Dr. Cambell (History of Arab Medicine),his principles of medical science surpassed those of Galen in theEuropean medical curriculum.