Surgery is the branch of medicine that deals with the treatment of disease, deformities, or injuries by operations. Surgery has been around for thousands of years, dating all the way back to the ancient Egyptians. Throughout this time period many methods and operations were created and perfected to what is now commonly practiced in modern times. The elimination of pain, the prevention of infection, and advanced means of diagnosis are now all part of surgery thanks to the surgeons of the past.

The word surgery comes from a Greek word meaning, working by hand. The first surgeon's tool is believed to be piece of flint. Some skeletons that have been found reveal an ancient surgical practice know as trephining. This operation involved making a small hole in a patients head in order to release evil spirits that were believed to be the cause for many ailments. It was also used to treat headaches. One of the first surgery's that is known is believed to be circumcisions.

Which was often performed in religious rites. The Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans all depended on various operations in times of war. This is were many commonly used surgical procedures were first developed. Military surgery has been important for two or three thousand years. But not only surgeons performed surgery. In the times of the middle ages barbers often performed many surgical procedures.

This is why some barber shops have a red and white striped pole outside. The red symbolizes blood and the white represents bandages. This mean that a particular barber performed surgical procedures. The most common of these operations was bloodletting. Bloodletting is the process of drawing blood from the body in the treatment of disease. Throughout the ages it has been performed using simple surgical tools such as scalpels and was even done using leeches.

Bloodletting removes the excess amount of blood and is usually done by removing blood from a vein. Usually, it only weakened the patient and rarely did it ever actually bring the patient in to optimal health. Bloodletting is also known as a venesection. But often times in surgery was performed with unclean instruments and unsanitary conditions. As a result many patients never survived surgery or died shortly after. Surgery was also done bringing great pain to patients.

The mid 1800's gave way to the use of anesthetics. Among the first anesthetics were chloroform and diethyl ether. Anesthetics are used to block pain from the patient. They are usually injected near the point of surgery. Today we have anesthetics such as the gases nitrous oxide and halothane These are used to put the patient to sleep.

Local anesthetics, such as procaine or lidocaine, affect only the area near the place of injection. These anesthetics are used to block nerve impulses. Acupuncture is another form of anesthesia which has been used in China. Acupuncture is a Chinese method of relieving pain by inserting needles into specific places on the body. According to Chinese philosophy, acupuncture influences a life force that flows along 12 paired and 2 unpaired channels of energy that run through the body. By inserting the needles it is believed that pain can be blocked from entering the brain.

The form of anesthetics is still practiced within China. Surgery has advanced to what is commonly practiced today because of aseptic surgery, improvements in surgical instruments, the development of anesthesia, and the use of chemicals to prevent infections. Because of these, doctors can perform amputations, which is the removal of limbs that are useless from the body, mastectomies, which is the removal of the breast and is commonly practiced when a patient has breast cancer, nephrectomies, which is the removal of a kidney when it has stopped functioning, and one of the most important procedures, transplants. Transplants are used when a body part no longer functions properly and is needed to survive.

Because of the practices of past surgeons our know lege of the body and how it works is phenomenal and has increased the life expectancy of people a great deal.