Korean J Med Hist.  1998 Jul;7(1):77-97.

On the traditional surgery of Choson period (II)

  • 1Department of the History of Medicine and Medical Ethics, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Korea.


In this paper, authors discussed the classification of swelling (Chong), swelling-treatment methods (Chi-Chong) in Choson period, traditional notions about the natural history, treatment principles, popular healing methods of swelling, and depicted specially designed acupuncture instruments applied to it. Among the six professional guide books at that time, A Secret Recipe of Swelling Treatment (16th century) introduced the invasive surgical method into the narrow disease category i.e. carbuncle and furuncle, cellulitis, erysipelae, and gravitation abscess. The writer named these diseases as 'fire, stone, water, hemp, silk carbuncle', following each specific characteristics. Another surgical book, Orientation to Swelling Treatment (16th century) extended the surgical method to 'non-external' but 'looks-like swelling' diseases, such as pleurisy, tympanitis, testicular swelling, sequestrum of osteomyelitis. It is natural that some researchers doubted whether the book was used in real practice. However, the content of the book is too detailed to be regarded as an imaginary product. From these books and other materials, we found that the traditional notion of swelling was closely related with the notions of 'knotted' or 'pent in'. So 'pent-up rancor' or grudge was thought to aggravate any kind of swelling, and was tabooed or contraindicated in swelling treatment. 'Knotting in mind' was regarded as one of the principal etiologies of 'swelling and abscess formation in the body'. 'Fire in mind' was also regarded as one of the causes of phlegm aggregation resulting in swelling.


Korea; Treatment of Abscess; Abscess; Swelling; Acupuncture; Surgery; History

MeSH Terms

English Abstract
History of Medicine, 16th Cent.
History of Medicine, 17th Cent.
History of Medicine, Early Modern
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