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Friday, May 15, 2009

Avenzoar or Ibn Zuhr (1091–1161)

Spanish Muslim surgeon.

Admired by contemporaries, his work advanced the practice of surgery in both the Muslim and Christian worlds. Avenzoar approached medicine in a practical manner and his works included advice on diet as well as information on surgical and medical treatments. He described the role of the oesophagus, pericarditis (inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart), tracheotomy (surgical opening of the windpipe), and procedures for the removal of cataracts in the eyes and kidney stones. He also discovered the parasite for scabies, a contagious skin infection, and described treatments for inner ear infection and tumours.

Avenzoar's Kitab al‐Taisir fi al‐Mudawat wa al‐Tadbir/Practical Manual of Treatments and Diet and Kitab al‐Aghziya/Book on Foodstuffs were translated into Latin in the late 13th century and used in European universities until the 18th century.

Avenzoar studied at the University of Córdoba in Spain before spending time in the great medical centres of Baghdad and Cairo. He later worked for the rulers of Muslim Spain. Unlike many of his contemporaries Avenzoar required proof in all things and did not just accept the ideas of classical theorists such as Galen, whose beliefs were widely considered infallible. A number of his anatomical discoveries were made through dissections of the human body, although this work was limited as it was forbidden under Islamic law.

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