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Vol. 28. Num. 1.January - February 2017Pages 1-50
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Vol. 28. Num. 1.January - February 2017Pages 1-50
Review article
DOI: 10.1016/j.neucie.2016.04.001
Cranial trepanation in primitive cultures
La trepanación craneal en las culturas primitivas
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José Manuel González-Darder
Servicio de Neurocirugía, Hospital Clínico Universitario, Valencia, Spain
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Abstract

A review is presented on cranial trepanations performed by primitive cultures. The scientific interest in this topic began after the discovery in 1965 by Ephraim G. Squier of a pre-Columbian trepanated skull, and studied by Paul Broca in Paris. Pseudotrepanation and other types of cranial manipulation are reviewed. The techniques, technology, and instruments for every type of trepanation are well known. There are a surprisingly high percentage of cases showing signs of post-trepanation survival. Indications for trepanation are speculative, perhaps magic. Although trepanation in primitive cultures is widespread around the world, and throughout time, the main fields of interest are the Neolithic Period in Europe, the pre-Columbian period in Andean South America, and some contemporaneous Pacific and African tribes. This particular trepanation procedure has no relationship with modern Neurosurgery, or with trepanations with therapeutic purposes performed since the Greco-Roman period in Europe, and afterwards around the world.

Keywords:
Trepanation
Primitive cultures
Pre-Columbian period
Neolithic period
Kisii tribe
Resumen

En el presente trabajo se revisan las trepanaciones craneales realizadas en el seno de las civilizaciones primitivas. El interés científico por este tema se inicia con el estudio de un cráneo precolombino trepanado encontrado en 1865 por Ephraim G. Squier en Perú y estudiado en París por Paul Broca. Se revisan las seudotrepanaciones y otras formas de manipulación craneal. Las técnicas, la tecnología y los instrumentos para los diferentes procedimientos de trepanación están bien establecidos. Hay un sorprendentemente alto porcentaje de casos con criterios de supervivencia. Más especulativas son las indicaciones, probablemente mágicas. Aunque la trepanación en culturas primitivas se extiende en el tiempo y por todo el mundo, hay 3 focos de mayor relevancia: Neolítico europeo, Sudamérica andina antes de la colonización española y algunas tribus oceánicas o africanas contemporáneas. Esta forma de apertura craneal no tiene ninguna relación con la neurocirugía moderna ni con las trepanaciones con finalidad médica iniciadas en la época grecorromana en Europa.

Palabras clave:
Trepanación
Culturas primitivas
Periodo precolombino
Periodo neolítico
Tribu kisii

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