FRACTURES AND BONE DISEASES IN ANCIENT EGYPT

Oct 2, 2010

FRACTURES AND BONE DISEASES IN ANCIENT EGYPT

Fracture forearm with splint, from a mummy of the 5th dynasty, showing signs of healing

In a recent excavation close to the pyramids, the city of the craftsmen and builders of the pyramids was discovered. The remnants of their skeletons show simple and multiple limb fractures, mostly at the ulna and radius (forearm bones), and of the fibula (leg). Most of those fractures show signs of complete healing with good realignment of the bone, indicating that they had been set correctly with a splint. Possibly, traction was applied in humerus fractures (arm bone). Two skeletons show amputations (a left leg and a right arm) with healed bone ends, suggesting a successful surgery. Recently, American researchers have described a 23 cm screw, tying the thigh and calf bones, fixed into a mummy dating back to the 6th century BC. It could not be confirmed whether it was placed surgically or during embalming.
Fracture forearm with splint, from a mummy             Fracture forearm with splint, from a mummy of the 5th dynasty, showing signs of healing.

An inscription in the tomb of Ipujy, an architect of the 19th dynasty (1300 BC) shows the physician – or sunu – reducing a dislocated joint. The procedure is exactly similar to the modern “Kocher’s technique” orthopedics use today.

The diagnosis of sciatic pain was well described in the Edwin Smith Papyrus:

“If thou examinst a man having a sprain in a vertebra of his spinal cord, thou shouldst say to him: extend now thy two legs and contract them both again. When he extends them both, he contracts them both immediately because of the pain he causes in the vertebra of his spinal column in which he suffers. Thou shouldst say concerning him: One having a sprain in a vertebra of his spinal column”.

This method of examination is what medical students today know as “Lassauge’s test”.

1 comments:

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