Anesthesia’s Evolution: From Ether Day to John Snow’s Precision

YearEvents and Developments
1846– October 16, 1846: William T.G. Morton’s successful demonstration of ether anesthesia in Boston became known as “Ether Day.”
– December 16, 1846: A successful trial of ether anesthesia took place in Paris.
– December 19, 1846: Anesthesia was administered in both Scotland and London, with one case in London performed by dentist James Robinson.
– December 21, 1846: Robert Liston used ether for an amputation in London.
– The discovery of anesthesia gained fame and revolutionized surgery, with significant citations in the New England Journal of Medicine.
1847– January 23, 1847: Heyfelder administered ether anesthesia in Germany.
– Throughout 1847: Ether anesthesia was introduced in several countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
– June 7, 1847: Australians William Pugh and John Belisario administered ether anesthesia.
– September 27, 1847: James Marriott, a New Zealand instrument maker, administered the first surgical anesthetic in Wellington.
– 1847 (Mexican-American War): US and Mexican forces used ether anesthesia.
– Late 1847: Peter Parker introduced ether anesthesia into China, using an apparatus supplied by Charles Jackson.
– James Simpson, a Scottish obstetrician, discovered chloroform as an alternative to ether for anesthesia in November 1847.
– Chloroform quickly gained acceptance in the UK and became known as the “British” anesthetic, while ether remained associated with the United States.
– Despite initial resistance and occasional fatalities with chloroform, it gained popularity in various countries.
– By the end of 1847, chloroform had replaced ether as the preferred anesthetic in France.
– Chloroform and ether continued to be used worldwide, gradually overcoming religious objections and medical skepticism.
– Notable instances included Fanny Longfellow (wife of the poet) and Queen Victoria receiving anesthesia during childbirth.
– In 1847, researchers Harless and von Bibra proposed a theory that ether and chloroform acted by dissolving lipids in the brain.
– Anesthetic choice influenced the development of anesthesia practice, with the US favoring ether and the UK adopting chloroform.
– John Snow, a British anesthetist, played a crucial role in advancing the field of anesthesia and is considered one of the greatest anesthetists in history.
– Snow’s observations and innovative thinking contributed to our understanding of anesthesia delivery, anesthetic depth, and precise control over anesthetic concentrations.

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