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Barber Surgeons

"Barber Surgeons" is a descriptor in the National Library of Medicine's controlled vocabulary thesaurus, MeSH (Medical Subject Headings). Descriptors are arranged in a hierarchical structure, which enables searching at various levels of specificity.

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In the late Middle Ages barbers who also let blood, sold unguents, pulled teeth, applied cups, and gave enemas. They generally had the right to practice surgery. They began to acquire importance about 1100, when the monks, who required the barber's services for the tonsure, also had recourse to them for blood-letting, a practice required by ecclesiastic law. By the 18th century barbers continued to practice minor surgery and dentistry and many famous surgeons acquired their skill in the shops of barbers. (From Castiglioni, A History of Medicine, 2d ed, pp402, 568, 658)


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