The History of Cesarean Section


Samuel Lurie, MD
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Edith Wolfson Medical Center, Holon, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Series: Obstetrics and Gynecology Advances, Surgery – Procedures, Complications, and Results
BISAC: MED033000

The fascinating issue of operative opening of the uterus and delivering the fetus known today as cesarean section has intrigued humankind for ages. This book is the most comprehensive text on the fascinating history of cesarean section. It includes the origin of the eponym and describes many myths from ancient Greek, Roman, Persian and medieval cultures. The first documents regarding cesarean delivery arise in ancient legal texts: a cuneiform tablet dealing with the adoption of a small boy during the 23rd year of the renowned King Hammurabi of Babylon (1795-1750 BC), “Lex Regia” proclaimed by Numa Pompilius, an ancient Roman King (716-673 BC), and Mishna, the collection of ancient Jewish laws (2nd century BC – 6th century AD).

The book includes a description of the oldest known drawing of a cesarean section that appears in the 1307 AD version of the book “Al-Athár-ul- Bákiya” by Albiruni. The book focuses on the debate about the definite perception of cesarean delivery that had at several times reached culminate conflicts, as in the medieval period, during the 18th century, during the 19th century and at the 20th-21st centuries. In medieval times, two contrasting categories of cesarean birth were described: saintly obstetrical miracles and satanic depiction of Antichrist birth. Saintly and satanic cesarean birth had different results, while the former were instruments of salvation, the latter delivered evil and damnation. Hence, without formal confrontation one with each other in medieval times, these two contrasting categories of cesarean section initiated a never ending debate on whether a cesarean should or should not be performed in its various forms.

Towards the end of the 20th century, a new issue about cesarean section became controversial; maternal-choice cesarean without a medical justification. Although, cesarean section on maternal request is a complex issue, it seems that those in favor of allowing women to have a maternal-choice cesarean section prevail over those against it in this round. Finally, the book focuses on physicians who had changed the history of cesarean section: François Rousset (1530-1603) who had a vision on performing cesarean section on living women, Max Sanger (1853-1903) who introduced uterine sutures, John Martin Munro Kerr (1868-1960) who introduced the transverse lower uterine segment incision, and Edwin Bradford Craigin (1859-1918) with his dictum: “once a Cesarean always a Cesarean”. (Imprint: Nova Biomedical )

Table of Contents

Preface pp.vii

Chapter 1. Cesarean Section in the Context of the History of General Medicine pp. 1-10

Chapter 2. Cesarean Section: The Origin of the Eponym pp.11-16

Chapter 3. The Myths – A Reflection of Medical Practice? pp. 17-28

Chapter 4. Babylon (18th Century BC) – The Very First Reference pp.29-34

Chapter 5. Ancient Rome – From Numa Pompilius to Galen: The Postmortem Operation pp. 35-40

Chapter 6. Mishna and Talmud (2nd Century BC – 6th Century AD): Cesarean Section on Living Women pp.41-46

Chapter 7. Al-Athar-ul- Bakiya – The Book with the Oldest Drawing of Cesarean Section pp.47-54

Chapter 8. Medieval Period in Europe: Saintly versus Satanic Operation
Chapter 9. Early Modern Era: Jacob Nufer, Jeremias Trautmann and other Pioneers pp.63-72

Chapter 10. 16th-17th Centuries: Between François Rousset and François Mauriceau 73-78

Chapter 11. 18th Century: “Pro-Cesareans” against “Anti-Cesareans” pp.79-86

Chapter 12. 19th Century: The Opposition to Advocates of Cesarean pp.87-96

Chapter 13. 20th Century: The Advent of the Safety Concept
Chapter 14. 20th and 21st Centuries: Cesarean Section on Demand pp. 109-116

Chapter 15. The History of Cesarean Techniques pp.117-130

Chapter 16. The History of Anesthesia for Cesarean Section pp.131-138

About the Author

Index pp.139-147


“The book offers a fascinating medical history on Caesarean Section to both obstetricians and the medical community alike. It begins from the Book of Genesis, from the early days of Babylon and ancient Egypt, and displays in colorful, yet in historical and medical accuracy, the development of the concepts, art, and opinions that have accompanied it from the outset to its expansion into a mainstream general medical practice performed in the West and the world over.” READ MORE…Prof. Shifra Shvarts, Moshe Prywes Center for Medical Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

“Professor Samuel Lurie, a member of the International Society for the History of Medicine and a regular contributor to this journal has performed a great service to his colleagues in compiling this short account of the history of cesarean section. As the author notes the procedure has intrigued mankind through recorded time and in many ways the history of this operation reflects the progress of medical practice through the ages.” READ MORE…Kenneth Collins

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