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Paulus Aegineta: Review of Spine-Related Chapters in “Epitomoe Medicoe Libri Septem”

Er, Uygur MD*; Naderi, Sait MD

doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3182760fa0
Historical Perspective

Study Design. Analysis of chapters related to spinal fractures and dislocations of an important medical book from medieval age. A historical study.

Objective. To present the sections on spinal fractures and dislocations in the treatise of Paulus Aegineta or Paul of Aegina, and to discuss their relationship with preceding and subsequent literature.

Summary of Background Data. Paul of Aegina was influenced by precedent great authors and provided a significant link in the transmission of the surgical knowledge to present day via the prominent physicians of Islamic golden age.

Methods. The edition on which this study is based was translated from Greek into English by Francis Adams and was published in 1846 by The Sydenham Society in London in 3 volumes. The related sections were examined and compared with the treatises of earlier and subsequent writers.

Results. Although Paul of Aegina was influenced by Hippocrates, Celsus, and Galen, he also put forward his own opinions. The most prominent representatives of the Islamic Golden Age, Rhazes, Albucasis, Avicenna, and Haly Abas were influenced by Paul of Aegina.

Conclusion. Paul of Aegina, who was the last representative of the Byzantine School, compiled approximately 1000 years of medical knowledge up to his own era. By taking on this task, he provided a significant link in the transmission of ancient knowledge to later generations. He is also considered as a bridge between Western and Eastern medicines as he conveyed medical knowledge of the ancient era to Islamic authors.

Paulus Aegineta was the first physici an to introduce the idea of surgical decompression for treatment of spinal traumas. Paulus Aegineta has been a bridge between the preceding and subsequent literature, this is the first study comparing the effect of preceding literature on his opinions, as well as his effects on subsequent literature.

*Neurosurgery Clinic, TOBB Economics and Technology University Hospital, Ankara; and

Neurosurgery Clinic, Umraniye Education and Research Hospital, İstanbul, Turkey.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Uygur Er, MD, Söğütözü C., TOBB Economics and Technology University Hospital Çankaya, 4th Sk., No. 22/7, 06510, Çankaya, Ankara, Turkey; E-mail:

Acknowledgment date: July 19, 2012. Acceptance date: September 25, 2012.

The manuscript submitted does not contain information about medical device(s)/drug(s).

No funds were received in support of this work.

No relevant financial activities outside the submitted work.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.