Featured Posts

History of Medicine

History of Medicine: Inca Surgeons & Head Trauma Surgery

· February 25, 2015 @ 11:21 pm · Comment


The first History of Medicine post is dedicated to the Ancient Inca Surgeons of Peru. The Inca performed head trauma surgeries called trepanation without anesthetic.

The procedure relieved the pressure of fluid under the skull that was observed in men after combat trauma. Years later, this procedure is now called decompressive craniectomy and is performed by neurosurgeons.


Inca Skull Surgeons Were “Highly Skilled,” Study Finds

Inca surgeons in ancient Peru commonly and successfully removed small portions of patients’ skulls to treat head injuries, according to a new study.

The surgical procedure—known as trepanation—was most often performed on adult men, likely to treat injuries suffered during combat, researchers say.

A similar procedure is performed today to relieve pressure caused by fluid buildup following severe head trauma (decompressive craniectomy).

Around the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco (see Peru map), remains dating back to A.D. 1000 show that surgical techniques were standardized and perfected over time, according to the report.

Many of the oldest skulls showed no evidence of bone healing following the operation, suggesting that the procedure was probably fatal.

But by the 1400s, survival rates approached 90 percent, and infection levels were very low, researchers say.

The new findings show that Inca surgeons had developed a detailed knowledge of cranial anatomy, said lead author Valerie Andrushko, of Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven.

“These people were skilled surgeons,” she said.

Excerpt from, Inca Skull Surgeons Were “Highly Skilled,” Study Finds – (Norris, National Geographic, May 2008)

History of Medicine

Do you know any interesting facts or stories about the History of Medicine? Share an interesting fact or story in the comments section or contact me!


Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.



Written By: Future M.D.

Future M.D. Future M.D. - The Medical Blog was created for students interested in medicine. On this blog, we write about medicine, medical school admissions, life as a medical student, and current events in medicine. Contact the editor with any questions or suggestions!

Future M.D. has written 8 post(s) for Future M.D. Read all posts written by .

About Future M.D.

Future M.D. is a medblog for future physicians established in 2012. The blog is designed and edited by The Future M.D., a student at a medical school in the Midwest. Read More?

Contact Me: hello@afuturemd.com

Search the Site

Looking for something specific? Search the blog or use the site map.

Free Kaplan Practice Test: GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, DAT & PCAT
Prep for the USMLE with Kaplan Medical! Enroll Today
Get the MCAT score you want with Kaplan MCAT Test Prep!