Paul of Aegiina was the most famous physician and surgeon in the Byzantine Empire during the seventh century, and probably thereafter. According to Eugene F. Rice, "Paulus Aegineta", Catalogus translationum et commentariorum IV (1980) p. 146, more codices of his works prior to the 13th century survived than any other Greek texts except the Bible and some patristic works, indicating that Paul's writings continued to be recopied and widely read. Paul gave original descriptions of lithotomy, trephining, tonsillectomy, paracentesis and amputation of the breast. The first clear description of the effects of lead poisoning also comes from him, indicating that lead poisoning was known in antiquity.
The work also contains extensive discussion of oral health including preservatives of teeth and dentrifices, affections and inflammations of the teeth and gums, on loosening teeth and removing them, on tongue-tied afflictions, and fracture of the jaws.
Paul's work, which did not have a formal title, was first published in print in the original Greek by the Aldine Press in 1528, edited by F. Torresani [Asulanus]. The manuscript on which Torresani based his text was copied by the scribe Manuel Pancratios in 1312. It is preserved in the Bibliòtheque Nationale de France (Par. gr. 2210), and bears Torresano's ownership inscription.
Three Latin translations were published in 1532. The first, entitled Opus divinum was translated from the Aldine edition by A. Torinus, and published by A. Cratander. It included books 1-5 and 7. The second, entitled De medica materia… published in Venice by L. Giunta, included the sixth book on surgery. The third, entitled Opus de re medica, published in Paris by S. de Colines, was based on a new, improved text and included all seven books in the translation of Johann Guinter von Andernach.