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1799 Humphrey Davy discovered Nitrous Oxide makes you less aware of pain (an
1833 Joseph Lister was given title of Baronet.
1842 Crawford W Long used ether as an anaesthetic while operating on a neck tumour
(but did not publish details of his operation).
1844 - Horace Wells used ether as a dental anaesthetic (to extract a tooth). This was a
demonstration but was unsuccessful as the patient was in pain.
1846 William Morton used ether as a dental anaesthetic.
Robert Liston used ether in a leg amputation.
Dr JC Warren removed a tumour from the neck of Gilbert Abbott using ether.
Ignatz Semmelweiss cut deaths in maternity wards by making students wash their
hands in a chlorinated solution. His ideas were ignored.
1847 James Simpson discovered chloroform.
1848 Dr John Snow invented the chloroform inhaler to control dosage.
1853 Queen Victoria used chloroform to relieve pain in the birth of her 8th child.
Alexander Wood invented hypodermic needles.
1858 Hannah Greener died due to chloroform.
1859 Joseph Lister was appointed as Professor of Surgery at Glasgow University.
1861 Louis Pasteur's germ theory!
Joseph Lister became a surgeon at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
1865 Joseph Lister tested his ideas on an 11 year old boy with a cut leg which would
have probably lead to a deadly infection. Lister soaked the bandages in carbolic acid.
There was no sign of infection and 6 weeks later the wound had healed.
1867 Joseph Lister announced that his wards had been free from sepsis after 2 years of
using carbolic acid.
1850s-1870s The `Black Period' of surgery. This was when, due to anaesthetics making
the patient calm, doctors tried to perform more complex surgery the deep surgery
caused infection and there were higher death rates than there was before anaesthetics.
1877 Joseph Lister became Professor of Surgery at King's College Hospital in London.
1878 Robert Koch invented the steam steriliser to clean medical instruments.
Robert Koch identified the bacteria for blood poisoning (proving Lister's ideas).
1884 Carl Koller discovered that cocaine could be used as a local anaesthetic.
By 1890 Most operations were carried out in antiseptic conditions.
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William Halstead developed rubber gloves (aiding aseptic surgery).
1890s Victor Horsley was the first specialist neuro-surgeon.
1895 Wilhelm Roentgen invented x-rays (not patented so others could use).
1901 Karl Landsteiner discovered blood groups A, B and O (this meant surgeons could
match blood to ensure transfusions were successful).
1902 Blood group AB was discovered.
1905 Novocaine (a more effective version of cocaine) was developed as a local
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Increasing use of keyhole surgery, using endoscopes and ultrasound scanning,
allowed minimally invasive surgery.
2002 Specialists at Massachusetts General Hospital, watching digital x-rays
transmitted by satellite, helped the medical officer at a research station from the South
Pole operate on a damaged knee.…read more