Slides in this set
· Surgery was extremely painful because there were no anaesthetics prior to the
· Assistants were needed to hold the patient down and make surgery feasible.
· Many chose to avoid surgery completely and live with painful conditions because
they were too afraid to have surgery.
· The most common operation at the time was amputation, for several reasons.
Amputations were quick, Robert Liston amputated a leg in 28 seconds. They were
also easy and required minimal knowledge.
· Patients either got drunk or were knocked out so that they didn't feel as much pain,
some mild and ineffective natural anaesthetics were used such as opium, but they
could become addictive many surgeons were drug addicts.
· Pain restricted the operations surgeons could do as the surgeon couldn't carry out
delicate operations with a screaming, thrashing patient.
· Many patients literally died from the pain post operative shock.…read more
· Nitrous oxide was discovered as an anaesthetic in 1799, by Humphry Davy,
who found that it relieved tooth ache.
· This came about because of improved knowledge of chemistry.
· Nitrous oxide was more effective than anaesthetics used previously, and a
breakthrough in medicine, but it didn't completely knock someone out. It
was also used by American dentist Horace Wells in a public demonstration,
but the patient did not react to it and was in agony. This meant that the
public lost confidence in it.…read more
· Ether was used by John Collins Warren when he removed a neck tumour in
1846. A year later, Robert Liston used ether when amputation a leg.
· Ether was used primarily in America by William Morton it wasn't as popular
· It was effective and made the patient completely unconscious.
· However, ether was an irritant to the eyes and lungs.
· It caused coughing and sickness, and had a long lasting, vile smell.
· It was also very flammable.…read more
· Chloroform was first discovered as an anaesthetic by James Young Simpson in
· Simpson was searching for a more effective (than ether) anaesthetic. Him and
some colleagues were inhaling different chemicals, looking for ones with
· They inhaled chloroform and `were under the table in minutes'.
· Chloroform was very effective it was often used in childbirth, most notably by
Queen Victoria for the birth of her eighth child.
· However, chloroform was untested nobody knew the risks.
· Hannah Greener died whilst having her toenail removed, a simple operation. The
public began to lose confidence in it.
· Chloroform was very easy to overdose on.
· Because surgery was now pain free, doctors were attempting more complex
operations which were carrying infection deeper into the body because people
were still unaware of germs.
· This led to the `Black period' in surgery although anaesthetics were introduced,
mortality rates increased.…read more