The women of salerno: Contribution to the origins of surgery from medieval Italy

Zoé Alaina Ferraris, Victor A. Ferraris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Medicine in medieval Europe benefited from Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin influences. Because of geographic and other favorable conditions, many of these cultural contributions synergized to form the Medical School at Salerno around 900 AD. Somewhat uncharacteristically, women physicians played a part in the advances that came from this school. Among the contributions associated with the School of Salerno were (1) textbooks of anatomy, obtained mainly from porcine dissections, (2) insistence on certification and training for physicians, (3) application of investigative thinking and deduction that led to important advances such as the use of healing by secondary intention, (4) the first textbook about women's medicine, and (5) the first recorded female medical school faculty member named Trotula de Ruggiero or Trocta Salernitana. The women physicians of Salerno contributed to a textbook that gained wide acceptance and distribution throughout Europe. The textbook, called De Passionibus Mulierium, was first published about 1100 AD and was a prominent text until a significant revision by Ambrose Paré's assistant in the early 1600s. Paré was the preeminent anatomist of his time, and many of his important anatomic and surgical considerations were directly and indirectly derived from the work of the women of Salerno. The advances first recorded, taught, and implemented by the women of Salerno are an interesting and important part of our surgical heritage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1855-1857
Number of pages3
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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