FIRST - Anaesthetic given in England - 52 Gower Street, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 31.276 W 000° 07.871
30U E 699021 N 5711696
Quick Description: Location of the first anaesthetic administered in England.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 5/1/2011 1:34:42 AM
Waymark Code: WMBBHZ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Zork V
Views: 30

Long Description:

On 19 December 1846, Francis Boott, an American botanist who had heard the news from Boston, watched dental surgeon James Robinson administer the first ether anaesthetic in England. Two days later, Robert Liston operated on Frederick Churchill at University College Hospital and a medical student, William Squire administered the anaesthetic.

Although many individuals administered anaesthetic agents in the decade 1835-1845, they were not widely publicised and did not impact on general medical practice. On 16 October 1846, at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, the first public demonstration of ether anaesthesia took place. The anaesthetist was William Morton and the surgeon was John Warren; the operation was the removal of a lump under the jaw of Gilbert Abbott. Present in the room was another surgeon, Jacob Bigelow, who wrote a letter to a friend in London which described the process. This letter was carried on the mailboat SS Arcadia, which docked in Liverpool in mid-December 1846.

On 19 December 1846 in both Dumfries and London, ether anaesthetics were given. Few details are available about the Dumfries anaesthetic, but it is believed that the patient had been run over by a cart and required an amputation of his leg; it is also believed that the patient died. In London, at 52 Gower Street, the home of an American botanist Francis Boott, a dentist named James Robinson removed a tooth of a Miss Lonsdale under ether anaesthesia. Two days later at University College Hospital, Robert Liston amputated the leg of a chauffeur, Frederick Churchill, while a medical student called William Squires gave an ether anaesthetic.

It is difficult to understand today how major this advance was. Before this, surgery was a terrifying last resort in a final attempt to save life. Few operations were possible. Surface surgery, amputation, fungating cancers and ‘cutting for stone’ (the removal of bladder stones) were really the only areas in which the surgeon could practice. The inside of the abdomen, chest and skull were essentially ‘no go’ areas. Speed was the only determinant of a successful surgeon. Most patients were held or strapped down - some would mercifully faint from their agony - many died either on the table or immediately post-surgery. The suffering was intense.

Liston, an eminent surgeon, was once operating for a bladder stone. The panic stricken patient finally broke loose from the brawny assistants, ran out of the room, down the hall and locked himself in the lavatory. Liston, hot on his heels and a determined man, broke down the door and carried the screaming patient back to complete the operative procedure (Rapier HR. Man against Pain London 1947;49).

Text source: RCOA


FIRST - Classification Variable: Item or Event

Date of FIRST: 12/19/1846

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