Ether the Magic of Painless Surgery

Topics: Surgery, Anesthesia, Diethyl ether Pages: 4 (1406 words) Published: May 26, 2013


Dr Crawford Williamson Long and ETHER to create painless surgery. In March 1842, Dr Crawford Williamson Long removed 2 tumours from the neck of a Mr James Venable under ether anaesthesia. But how did Dr Long come to this discovery? When Dr Crawford Long was at school and at Medical School of the University of Pennsylvania, it was fashionable with students to inhale gases like ether to create “hilarious antics”. Dr Long took part in these sessions and observed the effects of ether during “laughing gas” parties and “ether frolics” as they were called. He noticed insensitivity to any pain, bumps, bruises and some people would fall asleep, while under the effects of the drug but then the ether wore off. Ether is a colourless, highly flammable liquid with a strong sweet smell and causes unconsciousness when you breathe it in. Ether has 4 characteristics that make it a good chemical for anaesthesia. They are anaesthetic (puts you to sleep), analgesic (stops pain), amnesia (failure to remember) and muscle relaxant. Dr Long wrote:- “On several occasions I inhaled the ether for its exhilarating properties and would frequently discover bruises or painful spots on my person which I had no recollection of causing, and which I felt satisfied were received while under the influence of ether…” Dr Long performing the procedure

Bottle of ether dripping onto towel
Dr Long at first did not believe that a state of mesmerism occurred, but that it was a state of imagination. So, to test his theory he removed 3 tumours from a patient, on the same day. He only used breathing ether on the second tumour while for the first and third tumour were removed without anaesthetic. He found that the patient suffered extreme pain when ether was not used. He then tested his theory again with a patient who needed to have 2 fingers amputated. He operated on 2 separate days, one with ether...
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