The practices of Egyptian physicians ranged from embalming to faith healing to Egyptian Surgery, an autopsy. There was not the separation of Physician, Priest, and Magician in Egypt.
Egyptian Surgical and Medical Techniques
Surgical and medical techniques in Egypt 3700 years ago were very advanced and scientific. They knew about immobilization, about looking for a pulse, antiseptics, anesthetics, they even knew that when you have a fever that you should take antibiotics
The ancient Egyptians recorded surgical procedures earlier than 2500 B.C. Egyptians fashioned sharper instruments with a new metal, copper. They designed special tools to remove the brain from the skull when preparing bodies for mummification.
Egyptian physicians are known to have performed some minor surgical operations, however. The Papyrus Edwin Smith informs us of methods used to treat dislocated bones, the Papyrus Ebers informs us of practices relating to the removal of cists and tumor’s and offers a variety of methods to achieve this.
Apart from spiritual healing and herbal medicine, they practiced massage and manipulation and made extensive use of therapeutic herbs and foods, but surgery was only rarely part of their treatments. According to Herodotus, there was a high degree of specialization among physicians.
The use of Egyptian Surgery evolved from a knowledge of the basic anatomy and embalming practices of the Egyptians. From such careful observations made by the early medical practitioners of Egypt, healing practices began to center upon both the religious rituals and the lives of the ancient Egyptians.
Now it appears that they may have even pioneered amputation and prosthetic surgery. According to a report in the December 23/30 issue of the Lancet, researchers studying an Egyptian mummy dated to between 1550 and 700 B.C. have found direct evidence of such practices.
Pain alleviation to allow surgery was known to ancient Egyptian physicians. Patients were sedated by opiates. Local anesthesia was also known, where water was mixed with vinegar over Memphite stone, resulting in the formation of carbon dioxide with its known analgesic effect.
Cairo museum has a collection of surgical instruments, including scalpels, scissors, copper needles, forceps, spoons, lancets, hooks, probes, and pincers. A collection of 37 instruments is engraved on a wall in the temple of Kom-Ombo (2nd century BC), which was one of the houses of life.
Bone Egyptian Surgery was particularly well developed, researching the proportions of scientific research. The Papyrus of Edwin Smith deals extensively with bruises of the vertebra, dislocation of the jaws, various fractures (of the clavicle, humerus, ribs, nose, and cranium. Egyptians physicians also recognized diseases which could not be treated: “An affliction for which nothing can be done”
Egyptians had a reasonable understanding of the functions of major organs. They knew that vessels carried blood around the body. Surgical practices were written down and taught to physicians. Surgery was often conducted in conjunction with healing methods derived from religious beliefs.