Ether anesthesia: The historical development
Ether was discovered in 1275 by Spanish chemist Raymundus Lullius, and was named ¡§sweet vitriol." In 1540, a German scientist Valerius Cordus described the synthesis of ether . At about the same time, Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus discovered the hypnotic effects of ether. In 1730, a German scientist W.G. Frobenius renamed the chemical sweet vitriol into ether.
Scientists and physicians used ether for many different things, but not yet as an anesthetic agent. In 1794, English physicians Richard Pearson and Thomas Beddoes used ether in the treatment of phthisis, catarrhal fever, bladder calculus, and scurvy. These treatments were performed at the Beddoes' Pneumatic Institute. A little later in 1805, American physicians used ether to treat pulmonary inflammation.
Dr. Crawford Williamson Long is the person who first introduced surgical anesthetic use of ether. On March 30, 1842, he removed a tumor from the neck of Mr. James Venable under ether anesthesia. Apparently, he had been using ether for minor surgery as early as in the year of 1841, and had originally learned about ether while in medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. However Dr. Long, he did not publish the results until 1848, appearing in The Southern Medical and Surgical Journal. The late publishing of his surgical report made him missed the credit of the discovery of ether anesthesia, which was given to Morton, which will be mentioned below.
Before ether, the most common anesthetics used in surgical and medical treatments were chloroform and nitrous oxide. In 1844, Connecticut dentist Dr. Horace Wells, age 29, focused his... [continues]
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