Spinal cord injuries in Islamic medicine

Abdul Nasser KAADAN
History of Medicine Department, Institute for the History of Arabic Science, Aleppo University, Syria


Muslim physicians, in the Middle Ages, played a considerable role in the field of medicine development as a whole and neurosciences in particular.

Al-Razi (Rhazes) medical writings greatly influenced the Islamic world as well as Western Europe. He devoted an important chapter in his encyclopedic medical book al-Hawi (Continens) for talking about vertebral fractures and cord injuries. In this regard he stresses on the necessity of removing the bone sequestrae which injuring the cord.

Ibn-Sina, or Avicenna as known in the west, is considered one of the most important Muslim physicians in Islam. Al-Qanunn Fit-tib (or Code of Laws in Medicine) represents the most important work of ibn-Sina, and as William Osler described it, the most famous medical textbook ever written. In the fourth volume, when ibn-Sina talked about vertebral fractures he mentioned that cervical vertebra dislocation might cause death. In some cases he advised surgical bone decompression.

Al-Zahrawi (Albucasis) is considered one of the most important Muslim surgeons who lived in al-Andalus. His book (Kitab al-Tasrif) was translated into many European languages. It contains a special chapter for setting vertebral fractures. He mentioned that the physician should take care when treating the patient if there were lose of sensations and movements in the upper limb in the case of cervical vertebra injuries.

The aim of this paper is to review and highlight spinal cord injuries as viewed by the most prominent Muslim physicians, and to reveal their contributions and achievements in this field of medicine.


Session IX -- Early Neuroscience: Chinese, Arabic and Islamic Medicine
Wednesday, 5 June 2002, 10:00 am

Seventh Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN)

Los Angeles, California, USA