Head trauma resulting in the development of a subdural hematoma, or a blood clot around the brain, was not an uncommon medical problem faced by physicians after large confrontations. These clots needed to be removed and made trepanning (the excision of a section of skull) a fairly common practice throughout early medical history. This was also the first documented operation performed in prehistoric times as early “healers” hoped to allow the departure of evil spirits whose presence was suggested by such symptoms as seizures, headaches, depression, or any bizarre behavior.
Peruvian skull demonstrating a partially healed trephine surgery (age unknown)
This early Peruvian skull was elongated by early headbanding as a mark of beauty. There is new bone growth at the margins of the trepanned skull demonstrating that the patient survived the surgery and may have died of other causes.