The U.S. National Institute of Medicine has just uploaded a virtual edition of a fascinating illustrated manuscript showing men and women in early 19th-century Japan who came to the doctor HANAOKA Seishū 華岡青洲 (1760-1835) for surgical treatment. The graphically illustrated, colorful images in his casebook show several surgical problems he treated. (Click here for the website.)
Hanaoka was the first doctor in world history to use general anesthesia to remove tumors from cancer patients. Some of us in Japanese literature might know about him from the 1966 novel The Doctor’s Wife 『華岡青洲の妻』 written by ARIYOSHI Sawako 有吉佐和子.
The following is from the announcement on H-Japan about the new posting.
Hanaoka studied both traditional Chinese-style medicine and Western-style surgical techniques. At age 25, he took over the family business and began to practice an eclectic style of medicine that combined these two traditions. He was greatly concerned with his inability to treat cancer patients, and over a period of 20 years he developed an herbal concoction he called “mafutsusan,” made up of several highly toxic plants. It did not include opium derivatives which European doctors were only beginning to identify as anesthetics. The narcotic effects of Hanaoka’s anesthetic could last as long as 24 hours, allowing him to surgically remove many different kinds of tumors which previously had been inoperable.
Images from the manuscript were selected and curatorial text was written by Dr. Ann Jannetta, Professor Emerita of History at the University of Pittsburgh. The descriptive text can be viewed if one clicks the “T” in the upper left corner of the virtual book page.