The operation of the skulls: a trepanation video

Neurophilosophy has found a gory but completely astonishing film of a Kisi medicine man in Tanzania performing a trepanation operation. A young lady endures the seven hour procedure that puts a hole in her skull without any anaesthetic.

Mo has been doing some fantastic work on the history of trepanation and his illustrated article on the topic is a must read if you want an overview of this ancient procedure.

This film emphasises the importance of the operation in some cultures and highlights quite what a remarkable, if not, somewhat hazardous procedure trepanation really is.

And by the way, if you saw our recent rather whimsical post on ‘brain hats’, the end of the video gives a whole new meaning to the phrase.

Link to video of Kisi trepanation.
Link to illustrated history of trepanation.


  1. Posted February 14, 2008 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Puts a whole in her scull? Oh my.

  2. Posted February 14, 2008 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Fixed! Great. Actually, interesting info, thnx, Vaughan.

  3. jswolf19
    Posted February 15, 2008 at 3:36 am | Permalink

    There’s a Japanese manga that’s based on the idea of trepanation and the effects it has. As far as I know, the manga itself is not being published in English, but someone has written something up on wikipedia

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