The Pioneers

Roger of Salerno (ca. 1140-1195)

Roger of Salerno, was also known as Roger of Palermo, Roger of Parma, Rogerius Salernitanus, Ruggiero Frugardi. He was the first writer on Surgery in Italy. Roger taught and practiced at Parma.
By the nineteenth century, many European towns were demanding that physicians have several years of study or training before they could practice. Surgery had a lower status than pure medicine, beginning as a craft tradition until Rogerius composed his treatise, which laid the foundation for the species of the occidental surgical manuals, influencing them up to modern times.93

His work, Practica Chirurgiae, (A Practise of Surgery) was, according to some authorities, complied by Guido Aretino, one of his pupils. Aretino took notes at his lectures.

It was an incredible work for the time in 1170. The Practica Chirurgiae was considered a classic for at least three centuries and many of the surgical texts later associated with Salerno were probably based on Roger's own manuscripts and taken from the notes of pupils at his lectures.
He believed that nerves could not regenerate, but could be tethered back together. His method of examination for leaks of CSF in a patient with a skull fracture: was to have the patient hold his breath (Valsalva manoeuvre), the surgeon watched for CSF leak or air bubbles.

He also wrote about the re-anastomosis of nerves and the treatment of Haemorrhoids.

For wounds of the scalp, sutures of silk were recommended because this resists putrefaction and holds the wound edges together. Interrupted sutures about a finger-breadth apart are recommended.

“The lower part of the wound should be left open so that the cure may proceed properly."

Red powder was strewed over the wound and the leaf of a plant set above it. 
In the lower angle of the wound a pledge of lint for drainage purposes was inlaid. Haemorrhage was prevented by pressure, by the binding on of burnt wool firmly, and by the ligature of veins and by the cautery. Rogers work maintained the strong tradition of Salerno’s medical school, in existence since the ninth century, which pioneered the study of anatomy and surgery.






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The History of Surgery and Anaesthesia was created as a free resource to educate Students or indeed anyone wishing to understand the beginings of surgery and Anaesthesia.

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