Diseases of the female genital tract have been known to exist since
the time of the ancient Egyptians, the Old Testament and the early
The Kahun papyrus (2000 B.C.), the papyrus of Ebers (1550 B.C.) as
well as Ayurvedic books (1200 - 500 B.C.) included gynecologic
diseases in their text. Deliveries were performed by midwives and
The Lex Caesara, a law passed in the seventh century B.C. in Rome,
stated that all pregnant dying women should have abdominal surgery
done in order to deliver the baby, hence the term "Caesarian"
delivery. Much later, Ambroise Pare started a school for midwives in
The FIRST recorded case of gynecologic surgery took place in 1809
when Ephraim McDowell of Kentucky was called to deliver the 38 year
old Ms. Crawford of suspected twins. The "twins" however turned out
to be a large ovarian tumor. McDowell took the risk of performing
the first ovariotomy without anesthesia or aseptic precautions.
McDowell performed twelve more ovariotomies without failure, an
incredible feat in those days.
In 1855, the world's first hospital devoted to diseases of women was
set up in New York by James Marion Sims.
Robert Lawson Tail (1845-1897), another pioneer gynecologic surgeon,
was among the first to perform surgery for a tubo-ovarian abscess
(1872), hysterectomy (1874) and ectopic pregnancy (1883), in
addition to thousand of ovariotomies.