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Beginning of General Anesthesia

Anesthesia is now integral part of modern medicine, used invarious surgical procedures. Patients don’t have to experience the pain of the surgeriesthey need because of general anesthesia. Substances and methods of anesthesiaare now considered to be safe and efficient, but this wasn’t always the case inthe past.

In order to know what works and what not many doctors trieddifferent experimental anesthesias. These were the beginnings and some of theseanesthesias not only proved to be failures but have caused terrible outcomes and evendeath in some cases. The first operation under anesthesia was recorded in greatdetail in 1842, and two years after that, there was a case of tooth extraction withthe use of inhaled gas.

Substances Used in Anesthesia

Chloroform, nitrous oxide and ethyl chloride, as well as etherare the substances Dr. Crawford W. Long of Athens described in his notes.

According to these notes, Dr. Crawford finds chloroform lessinflammable than ether. The substance taste sweet and the smell is lessunpleasant, he says. As one of the problems related to the use of chloroform,Dr. Crawford sees the danger of burning when applied to the face. His notes describethat chloroform has shorter induction time than ether but it may cause several problemsduring this phase of anesthesia. He advises to watch patient’s pulse, color,breathing and the depth of narcosis (by the eye reflexes). If the patient’s pupilsbecome dilated after the use of chloroform that is much bigger problem than ifit was ether.

Nitrous oxide is another substance mentioned in Dr. Crawford’snotes about anesthesia. According to the notes, this gas is supplied in steel cylindersand high pressure turns it into liquid. Dr. Crawford says that it was difficultto use these cylinders and that it requires special equipment for theadministration. He noted that this type of anesthesia may last for a long time.He also specifies that he has used nitrous oxide for a leg amputation for over45 minutes.

Ethyl chloride was described as the substance which can be used withspecial equipment, but it could also be used on the open masks or sprayed intothe gas bag. Dr. Crawford warns about depression of the heart this substancemay cause and recommends watching the patient’s pulse. Ethyl chloride wasdescribed as portable gas which may cause headache and nausea after its use. Accordingto Dr. Crawford, nitrous oxide is much safer, more pleasant to be used and alsocompletely side effect-free.

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