Tag Archives: anesthetic

Airs and graces: Humphry Davy and science as performance

Alan Bleakley Sennen, West Cornwall, United Kingdom   A cartoon featured in an 1807 dissertation by a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania on the “chemical and exhilarating effects of nitrous oxide gas.” The two figures are almost certainly Davy to the right and perhaps Beddoes to the left. Credit: Bulletin of the Society […]

The Potato Eaters: brushstrokes of sickness and sustenance

Jeanne Dsouza Manipal, India   Figure 1. Portrait of The Potato Eaters showing 5 members of a family around a table eating potatoes and sipping coffee, four of whom have skin eruptions and limb changes suggestive of leprosy. One wants to be an honest man, one is so, one works as hard as a slave but […]

Leeching and François-Joseph-Victor Broussais

JMS Pearce Hull, England, UK   Fig 1. Broussais & leeching. Credit: Encyclopædia Britannica. The practice of bloodletting began with the Egyptians and was succeeded by the Greeks, Romans (including Galen), and healers in India. In medieval times it spread throughout Europe. The “leech craze” was so popular in the nineteenth century that it has […]

William Morton first demonstrates the use of ether anesthesia

In 1846 the dentist William T Morton first publicly demonstrated the use of inhaled ether as a surgical anesthetic at the Massachusetts General Hospital. At the end of the procedure, the surgeon famously said: “Gentlemen, this is no humbug.” Very soon anesthesia became universally used in surgery. The first use of ether in dental surgery, […]

James Simpson, who made childbirth painless

A large jolly man with broad shoulders, large hands, blue eyes, and a charismatic personality, James Young Simpson was said to have been the most popular man in Edinburgh since the death of Sir Walter Scott.1 Born in 1811 at Bathgate, he was the seventh son of a village baker in a poor family housed in […]