This joint digital collection of works illustrates the manner in which two medical disciplines have developed hand in hand.
For many centuries, surgeons were not allowed to go beyond the treatment of combat wounds, fractured bones, bleeding and tumours. They often had no scientific training and their work was held in disdain by the universities. There were certain exceptions to this rule, such as Guy de Chauliac (14th century), Giovanni da Vigo (15th century) and Juan Fragoso (16th century), but it was not until the eighteenth century that surgery gained a prominent place in the universities.
In Catalonia, a good example of this new importance comes with the foundation of the Colleges of Surgery, such as the Barcelona College of Surgery (1760), which later merged with the College of Medicine and became the Faculty of Medical Sciences of Barcelona, in 1843. These institutions launched the careers of such distinguished figures as Antoni de Gimbernat, Francesc Puig, Jaume Menós i de Llena, Pere Virgili and Diego Velasco.
However, the great leap of surgery as a treatment for many other illnesses and ailments did not occur until the mid-nineteenth century at the time of the discovery of the first anaesthetics and the concept of antisepsis. Anaesthesia was the product of repeated attempts to overcome the pain barrier during surgery, and longer and more complex operations only became possible with the advent of anaesthesia. This period also saw the publication of works by students like Àlvar Esquerdo i Esquerdo and professors in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Barcelona such as Joan Giné i Partagàs, Antoni Mendoza (who did the first operation in Spain to use anaesthesia), Antoni Morales and Salvador Cardenal (who introduced the techniques of antisepsis and asepsis to Spain).