Deals with the extraction of foreign bodies (shalya),diseases/disorders that require surgical /para surgical management( treats diseases, injuries and deformities by manual or operative methods.) This discipline finds a parallel in modern discipline of surgery.
Contrary to the modern concepts surgery was pioneered by Ayurveda in ancient India. It is a significant branch of Ayurveda. The name of the sage-physician Sushruta is synonymous with surgery. From his treatise Susruta Samhita we come to know that thousand of years ago sophisticated methods of surgery were practiced in India.
The original text of Sushruta discusses in detail about an exhaustive range of surgical methods including about how to deal with various types of tumors, internal and external injuries, fracture of bones, complications during pregnancy and delivery, and obstruction in intestinal loop. Sushruta was the first surgeon to develop cosmetic surgery. His surgical treatment for trichiasis can be compared to some of the modern operative techniques used for this eye disease.
The use of various surgical instruments is also described in the Sushruta Samhita for the treatment. The instruments described were made from stone, wood and other such natural materials.
Shalya Tantra was popular because this could give fast relief as compared to the slow process of recovery from medicines or herbs. Charaka, the best-known physician of Ayurvedic medicine also recommended for Shalya Tantra in treatment of certain diseases, which required immediate attention like hemorrhoids.
The long foreign rule in India and lack of promotion stalled the progress of ayurvedic surgery in the middle of the second millennium.
Topics of intestinal obstructions, bladder stones, and the use of dead bodies for dissection and learning were taught and practiced in ancient India.
According to Sushruta, Shalya tantra is best suited, when the problem is beyond just medicinal repair. In cases like, Arbuda (abscesses, cysts), Gandamala (enlarged lymph nodes), Mul- vyadhi (hemorrhoids), Gud-bransh (prolapse rectum), Ashmari (stones), Mutravaodh (retention of urine) and stanarog (breast diseases), Shalya tantra should be used. The treatment would not only give faster relief to the ailing person, but also will be beneficial in situations, where Kayachikitsa will fall short.
This branch describes in detail about the pre-operative procedures, general procedures, post-operative procedures, marma’s (significant points) and also about anesthesia. Along with this, it also describes the types of bandages, shastra (sharp instruments), yantras (blunt instruments) and sutures (stitches) used in the surgery. The use of various surgical instruments is also described in the Sushruta Samhita for the treatment.
In Shalya tantra, the instruments described were mainly made from stone, wood, branches of trees, broad leaves and other such natural materials. For ligatures a creeper i.e. a climbing plant was also sometimes used. The treatment of Shalya Tantra was popular, because this could give fast relief as compared to the slow process of recovery from medicines or herbs. Diseases, which requires instant treatment in those cases , Shalya chikitsa was the best method.