(936-1010 AD)

Abu Kasim Khalaf bin Abbas al-Zahrawi, also known as Albucasis, Alzaravius, Abulcasis, he was born in Spain in a village (Az-Zahra) near Cordoba. He studied medicine in Cordoba. The greatest achievement of Al-Zahrawi was his Encyclopedia in Medicine. An incomplete manuscript of it is found at the National Museum in Damascus, Syria.

His book was the basis of surgical studies in Europe for six centuries. It is in three sections: Section I on medicine. Section II on pharmacology. Section III on surgery, with 200 illustrations of surgical instruments used by the author

Author of “Al-Tasrif Liman A’jeza A’n al-Ta’leef”(Practical Guide for Those Unable to be Authors), first book on neurosurgery. It was used in Europe for five centuries. The Latin translation was made in 1778, the French in 1861, and the English in 1908.

He was a pioneer in neurosurgery, introducing new techniques based on anatomical dissections.

He was the first to describe skull fractures and their complications. Other notable accomplishments include:


• Described intra-cranial bleeds.


• Introduced instruments to make burr holes in the skull, and described the currently used method to expose the brain at surgery by connecting burr holes.


• Devised an instrument to treat vertebral slippage.


• First to describe tennis ball skull fractures in children.


• His description of the operation for resection of the breast for cancer is classical.


• Reported personal observations about hydatid disease and hemophilia.


• Used a combination of plants to put people to sleep during surgery.


• Recommended that surgeons acquaint themselves with the anatomy of the region prior to surgery.


• Recognized that pain is a symptom not a diagnosis.


• Considered cleanliness essential to wound healing and promoted use of alcohol for this purpose.


• Insisted on having all surgical instruments sterilized at all times for use in emergencies


• Classified strokes into : chronic, no recovery, and recoverable


• Defined coma as absence of brain function with loss of sensations and of voluntary movement.


• Differentiated facial palsy from facial spasm.


• Classified anosmia into acquired and inherited.


• Described Pott’s disease.

Reference: Al-Kurdi, al.Neuroscience 9:1,2004