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Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. A variety of drugs may be administered, with the overall aim of ensuring unconsciousness, amnesia, analgesia, loss of reflexes of the autonomic nervous system, and in some cases paralysis of skeletal muscles. Attempts at producing a state of general anaesthesia can be traced throughout recorded history in the writings of the ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Indians, and Chinese.
During the Middle Ages, scientists and other scholars made significant advances in the Eastern world, while their European counterparts also made important advances. The European Renaissance saw significant advances in anatomy and surgical technique.
However, despite all this progress, surgery remained a treatment of last resort. Largely because of the associated pain, many patients chose certain death rather than undergo surgery.