Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Anesthesia

  • Hanaoka Seishū, inventor of an early general anesthetic

    Kingston Bridges London, United Kingdom   Hanaoka performing the first operation with tsūsensan. University Hospital Medical Information Network Center. Since time immemorial, humans have sought to alleviate illness and suffering through surgical interventions. Amputations with improvised tools took place in the Upper Paleolithic period over 30,000 years ago, and skeletal evidence of trephining has been…

  • William Webster, the first modern Canadian academic anesthesiologist

    Kush Patel Ajax, Canada   Dr. William Webster. Photo by the Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society (CAS), 2004. Archival Resources, Preserving the Heritage of Canadian Anesthesiology, p. 5. Permission obtained by the CAS Archives and Artifacts Committee. Until the early twentieth century, anesthetics were a black box, and even though ether and chloroform were commonly used, their…

  • “My dear neoplasm:” Sigmund Freud’s oral cancer

    James L. Franklin Chicago, Illinois, United states   Sigmund Freud circa 1921. Photo by Max Halberstadt. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. When the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, died in London early on the morning of September 23, 1939, he succumbed to what he wryly referred to as “my dear old cancer with which I have…

  • Hans Christian Andersen, James Young Simpson, and ether frolics

    JMS PearceHull, England, United Kingdom In May 1847, the widely admired writer of literary fairy tales and stories Hans Christian Andersen (Fig 1) left Copenhagen on a tour of Germany and Holland and arrived in London on June 23. There he was enthusiastically received by Joseph Hambro, a Danish entrepreneur, banker, whom he knew from…

  • Pain versus survival

    Marissa Armoogam Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies   Painting of Jan De Doot by Carel van Savoyen. 1650s. Portrait Collection of the Laboratory of Pathology, Leiden University. Via Wikimedia. Pain has long been a given in any surgical procedure, but thanks to the many advances in medicine and particularly in anesthesia, the experience of insurmountable…

  • The “Ether Controversy”

    JMS Pearce Hull, England, UK   Fig 1. Warren and Morton’s operation in the Ether Dome, restaged with Mass General physicians assuming the roles of the original participants. Warren Zapol, MD, chief of anesthesia and critical care, starred as Dr. Morton, while Philip Kistler, MD, director of the Mass General stroke unit, played Dr. Warren.…

  • Rage against the machine

    Kaitlin Kan Villanova, Pennsylvania, United States   Isle of Lethe, zentangle. Drawing by Kaitlin Kan. It was almost as if the neuromodulation clinic was the machine itself. The entire ward was U-shaped, with each arm housing preparation and recovery and the treatment suite nestled in the middle. Each patient was scheduled to the moment; nurses…

  • George Crile Sr., founder of the Cleveland Clinic

    Portrait of G. W. Crile. Credit: Wellcome Collection. (CC BY 4.0) Early days George Crile was an exceptional man, a skilled surgeon who lived at a time when American medicine was emerging from its horse and buggy period and was embracing the principles of aseptic surgery and scientific medicine. Always full of new ideas, he was…

  • Crawford W. Long, first use of ether anesthesia

    Crawford Williamson Long (1815–1878) is best known for his first use of ether as an anesthetic. He graduated from medical school in Pennsylvania and walked the hospitals in New York. He then returned home to set up practice in Jefferson, Georgia, a village some 140 miles from a railroad, where professional visits were made on…

  • Presentism

    Jayant Radhakrishnan Chicago, Illinois, United States   “Elihu Yale; William Cavendish, the second Duke of Devonshire; Lord James Cavendish; Mr. Tunstal; and an Enslaved Servant” Previously hung at Woodbridge Hall of Yale University. Now at the Yale center for British Art. Yale Center for British Art, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons  The Oxford English Dictionary…