The Evolution of Anesthesia

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The scene is a 19th century home; a man knocks on the door for his appointment. The door opens and standing there is the doctor in a stiff, dry, blood-covered smock. The man is there for surgery and the doctor leads him to his designated operating room. As the doctor sets the man down in the chair, the man sees the dry blood and sharp instruments. He starts to have second thoughts on the surgery and struggles to get away. Two of the doctor’s assistants hold him down as the doctor gives him a blow to the head to knock his patient out. The poor man screams in agony as he awakes from the doctor beginning his operation. Stories such as that one are now only distant memories of the past. This is all thanks to a drug called ether that renders people unconscious so that they are out cold for the surgery and won’t feel any pain. The discovery of ether transformed the medical world and led to multiple forms of anesthesia for many pain free surgeries leading to even better outcomes in the future.
Dr. William Thomas Green Morton was a small town American dentist back in the 1800’s. One day he encountered a patient with a severe toothache but the patient was scared of the pain that he/she would encounter. He asked Dr. Charles Jackson for nitrous oxide, but he was given ether and told it had the same properties. The dental operation was a pain free success. Morton started testing ether on his dog, his goldfish, insects and even himself. At one point he knocked out his dog for so long he thought he was dead. After finding using ether was successful he tried it on some of his patients with great success. He was then ready to demonstrate his findings in front of a crowd at the Massachusetts University of Medicine. After successfully having a f...

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