Friday, January 30, 2015

Ether and chloroform

Ether was known in the 13th and 14th century. That its formation was described in the 16th century by Valerius Cordus and that it was first designed ‘Ether’ by Frobenius in 1730.

Dr. Crawford Williamson Long, of Jefferson, Georgia undoubtedly deserves credit for priority in using ether deliberately and successfully for the purpose of inducing anesthesia in a surgical operation in March 1842.

He had safely extirpated a tumor from the neck of a Mr. Venables while profoundly under the anesthetic influence of ether. Dr. Crawford did not, however, publish a description of his feat until 1848.

In October 1846, Dr Morton successfully anaesthetized a patient in the Massachusetts General Hospital with ether.

In 1847, the Edinburgh obstetrician James Young Simpsons first used chloroform for general anesthesia during childbirth. Chloroform was first prepared in 1831 by the American chemist Samuel Guthrie (1782-1848), who was attempting to create an inexpensive pesticide by mixing whiskey with chlorinated lime.

Chloroform was inflammable and put people to sleep relatively quickly, both advantages that allowed it to replace ether the most commonly used anesthetic.  The used of chloroform during surgery expanded rapidly thereafter in Europe.  

In the United States chloroform began to replace ether as an anesthetic at the beginning of 20th century; however it was quickly abandoned in favor of ether upon discovery of its toxicity.

Ether is still the preferred anesthetic in some developing nations due to its high therapeutic index.
Ether and chloroform

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