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Ancient Egyptian Neurosurgery

The earliest known written documents that relate to early neurosurgery date from the ancient Egyptian period. This period covers some 30 successive dynasties and produced the earliest known practicing physician—Imhotep (1300 bc). This period of history provided the earliest known medical and surgical material. Today, there are three existing documents available that have relevance to medicine. These papyri, which are named after their early owners, are the Ebers, Hearst, and Edwin Smith papyri.[6-8]

Examination of these Egyptian papyri reveals a practice of medicine that was based largely on magic and superstition. Medical and surgical treatment relied on simple principles, most of which allowed nature to provide restoration of health with little intervention and mostly observation with simple medicants. The Egyptians realized that immobilization for a neck or back injury was important to reduce further injury. They commonly prescribed and applied splints for …