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History of anesthesia: the discovery that changed everything

The history of anesthesia dates back to prehistoric times, but it was not until 1846 that the proper method was found that allowed surgery to save the lives it saves today.

The anesthesia is one of the most important leaps in the history of medicine. Surgical interventions save thousands of lives a day, but before patients were fully anesthetized, many died of trauma or even preferred death to going through the gulp of an operation. Everything changed on October 16, 1846, when this new idea was generated.

On September 30 of that year William TG Morton successfully used ethyl ether in a tooth extraction – the patient was a Boston music professor, Eben Frost, – and two weeks later he gave a public demonstration of his achievement. Sixteen days later the big leap would come, when John Collins Warren removed a tumor from Edward Gilbert Abbott’s neck. The operation took place in the Massachusets General Hospital Amphitheater, now known as the Ether Dome.

Morton and Warren were the first to demonstrate the use of ether as an anesthetic, news of its discovery flew, and Robert Liston performed an amputation using this method that same December. However, Morton, long considered the pioneer in this field, was not the first to use it.

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Published by ara00gates

I am front-end and WordPress developer with an eye for details and a passion for perfection. Formerly I was the host of the Young Guns Show. When I'm not coding, you'll typically find me playing and recording music or sim racing online.

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