Doctors started practicing brain surgery at least 2,900 years ago, a specialist on Tibetan culture and literature has claimed.
Karma Trinley made the claim after four decades of researching the Tibetan Tripitaka, an ancient encyclopedia.
"The 2,900-year-old Tibetan Tripitaka states clearly why and how brain surgery was carried out," the China Daily quoted Trinley, an associate professor of the Tibetan language and literature at the Tibet University in Lhasa, as saying.
"It describes in detail how a young Indian doctor watched brain surgery being performed by a veteran surgeon," he said.
According to the Tripitaka, the young Indian doctor, whose name was similar in pronunciation to the Tibetan name Tsogyel, was not allowed to join the surgery, but merely stood by with the patient's permission.
The book, according to a Xinhua news agency report, said the patient was suffering from a severe headache and repeatedly knocked his head on hard objects to ease the pain.
When Tsogyel saw the surgeon trying to operate on the patient's brain with a pair of tweezers, he shouted that the tweezers had to be heated first.
"Tsogyel was a well-reputed doctor and was good at all medical practice except brain surgery," said Trinley.
"But the surgeon followed his advice and the surgery later proved successful," added Trinley.
Trinley said Tsogyel, who's advice on sterilization helped to raise the success rate of surgery at the time, later became a skilled surgeon himself.
Evidence of ancient brain surgery was first found in 1998, when archeologists unearthed human skulls with mended cracks on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. These cracks indicated that craniotomies were probably performed by the Chinese over 5,000 years ago.