[Embryotomy. A historical review]

Verh K Acad Geneeskd Belg. 1993;55(2):89-121; discussion 121-2.
[Article in Dutch]


Destructive operations are the oldest type of bloody operation in obstetrics and possibly in the (written) history of Medicine. The name "embryotomy" is already mentioned in the hippocratic literature. The indication and technique of this "two-tempi" operation (embryotomy or reduction of the fetus and embryulcia or extraction of the reduced foetus) were thoroughly mentioned, described and coded for the first time by Soranos of Ephesos. Soranos was also the first to mention clearly by their names the instruments used. Only the Arabic physicians, especially Albucasim, transmitted to us the first image of their collection of instruments. The author elucidates the many--medical and ethical--aspects relating to embryotomy, which has been practised till after W.W.II.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / history*
  • Abortion, Induced / instrumentation
  • Female
  • History, 15th Century
  • History, 16th Century
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, Ancient
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Surgical Instruments / history