The Path of Nasal Reconstruction: From Ancient India to the Present

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Nasal reconstruction, first described over 2600 years ago in India, has undergone several modifications in its development. However, there is a misconception that this surgery began with the forehead flap repair, and the history of the subsequent two and a half millennia is poorly represented in most surgical texts. This article presents a review of the historical significance of nasal injuries in antiquity and the various technical developments along the path to modern nasal reconstruction, from ancient India through medieval Europe to modern England and America. Although written texts from 6th-century BC India through 16th-century AD Europe described pedicle flap repair of nasal defects, it was not until the late 18th century that the first written description of the forehead flap appeared. Forehead flap repair developed on an alternate pathway, being transmitted via an oral tradition, typically within families of craftsmen, at least as early as the 14th century. These ancient authors recognized the need for accurate flap design and sizing, donor site repair, precise tissue apposition, protection of the flap pedicle, hemostasis, deepithelialization of the wound, and replacement of intranasal lining. By appreciating ancient surgical techniques and examining the particular issues these procedures attempted to address, the surgeon will gain an additional and more detailed perspective of nasal reconstruction that will aid in providing excellent care to his patients.

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