June 12, 2018
The Success of Skull Surgery in Ancient Peru
Researchers have studied ancient Peruvian skulls of individuals who had undergone trepanation; drilling, cutting or scraping a hole in the skull for medical reasons; 59 skulls from 400 BCE to 200 BCE, 421 skulls from 1000 CE to 1400 CE and 160 from the Inca period, 1400 CE to 1500 CE were studied. Ancient Peruvian surgeons treated individuals for traumatic injuries to clean up skull fractures and fluid accumulation that causes pressure on the brain. Some skulls had no evidence of traumatic blows, so they may have been trying to relieve headaches and mental illness. If the bones around the hole showed no signs of healing, the patient died. Smooth bone shows the patient survived. The ancient Peruvian success rate for this procedure was 80% in time. In the American civil War, the success rate was at 50%. The ancient Peruvian success rate climbed from 40% in the earliest era to 80% in the Inca period. Many of the Inca period skulls showed multiple trepanations over time due to successive head blows.
Science News has the report here;
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