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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 2-8

The missing link in the history of urology: A call for more efforts to bridge the gap

King Saud University College of Medicine and King Khalid University Hospital, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Rabie E Abdel-Halim
90 Heathfield Rd, Liverpool, Merseyside, L15 9HA, UK

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DOI: 10.4103/0974-7796.48780

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With few exceptions, most of the current publications on history of urology still ignore the scientific and technological events of the more than a thousand years between the Greco-Roman times and the modern era. This has broken an important link in the globally continuous line of progress and evolution of world civilizations. Another aggravation of that missing-link problem in the history of urology, and history of medicine, in general, is the large number of articles based, only, on copying from secondary sources without checking the primary sources (the edited and published original manuscripts). Such articles easily propagate omissions, deficiencies, misunderstandings, distortions, and unfounded claims. On the other hand, in the Arabic and Islamic world, though many original authentic medical manuscripts written by famous scholars of the Islamic era were authoritatively edited and published during the twentieth century, the number of primary source studies based on them by historians or medical researchers remained few and were limited to individual efforts. Therefore, we focused on this missing-link era and performed several primary source studies of the published medical works of ten scholars who lived and practiced between the ninth and the thirteenth centuries and whose Latinized books were available in Europe as early as the twelfth century with their influence lasting until the eighteenth century. Our results confirm that those scholars of the Islamic era were not mere compilers or sheer transmitters of Greco-Roman medical literature. On the contrary, they critically reviewed the translated heritage of previous civilizations rejecting what is superfluous and accepting only what proves to be true. They added original contributions to the progress of urology and pioneered new fields of medical knowledge and practice such as medical ethics, medical education, medical certification, health education, preventive medicine, hospitals and hospital training, medical-practice quality control, clinical medicine, differential diagnosis, experimental medicine, experimental surgery, beginnings of specialization, pharmacology, use of anesthetics, and many other new discoveries in anatomy, physiology, pathology, therapeutics, surgical instruments, and surgical techniques.

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