GCSE History: Anaesthetics

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  • Created on: 27-03-13 20:15
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Anaesthetics ­ reducing pain and developed partly due to
improved knowledge of chemistry.
In 1799 sir Humphrey Davy discovered laughing gas (nitrous oxide) reduced pain. However it did
not make patients completely unconscious and when Horace wells used it in a demonstration his
patient was in agony which killed people's confidence in laughing gas as an anaesthetics.
In 1846 John Collins Warren removed a neck tumour with Ether. However it irritated the heart and
lungs, causing coughing and sickness
In 1847 James Simpson discovered that chloroform was very effective as an anaesthetic. He
discovered it by experimenting with chemicals.
However there was strong opposition to chloroform: Surgeons prided themselves with speed and
chloroform just slowed them down. In 1848 Hannah Greener died when given chloroform. With
patients asleep there were more complex operations which created more infection and blood loss,
this period became known as the black period due to the high death rate. Christians opposed
chloroform as many believed that pain was a blessing. It wasn't tested so no one knew if there were
long term effects. In 1857 Queen Victoria accepted using chloroform in child birth.
Surgery was now pain free therefore fewer patients died of shock. There was more time for
operations which meant that surgeons could go deeper into the body, developing new operations.
Research began into using chloroform safely and effectively and also research led to better
anaesthetics which relaxed muscles so there were fewer side effects = IMPROVED SURGERY!!


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