So how did anesthesia develop? Well, it's all thanks
to the dentists. Doctors can't take any credit for it.
Prior to 1846, there was no known way
to provide anesthesia
to those undergoing surgery. The whole process
of surgery was extraordinarily painful,
bloody and dirty. Surgeons were praised
for the speed, not skill,
and their successful completions
of operations. Surgical procedures
were really either very superficial, drainage
of abscesses, a removal of small skin lesions,
or major amputations of limbs,
cesarean section, all without any anesthesia.
The Massachusetts General Hospital,
at the time that this whole event occurs,
was the busiest surgical site in North America.
It provided surgical
procedures to an average of five patients
a week. After 1846, after 1846
longer, more complex surgical procedures
developed and the field of surgery
exploded. Now, over a hundred procedures
are done at Massachusetts General Hospital
a day and new surgical procedures
are being developed at a very rapid pace.
So the first dentist we are going to talk about
is Doctor Horace Wells. He's the real father
of anesthesiology, although the term's been used
on many individuals. Yes, he was a dentist.
In 1844 he went to a party.
It was a nitrous oxide party,
where people gathered, enjoyed themselves
and breathed nitrous oxide
usually out of a big paper bag. And one of the things
he noticed, was a woman smashed
her leg very hard against the bench and ended up
with a large laceration on her leg, which should have been
extremely painful. She had no sense of pain
whatsoever from it. And from this observation,
he then went about using nitrous oxide
in his dental practice. He had
his own tooth extracted under nitrous oxide
anesthesia and had very little discomfort.
And in 1845 he demonstrated nitrous oxide
for surgical anesthesia at the Massachusetts
General Hospital. Unfortunately, as you're going
to learn in this course, nitrous oxide is not
a strong anesthetic, and it was
a dismal failure. And he was shamed
before all the physicians in Massachusetts
and the dentists. Nitrous oxide
provides good analgesic, good pain control,
but cannot provide full anesthesia.
So the patient cried out during the surgery,
Wells was humiliated and he
ultimately committed suicide. This was
a typical advertisement in those days for a laughing
gas party, nitrous oxide party. So you can see:
laugh, sing, dance, speak or fight.
All those wonderful things you could do with nitrous oxide
on board. So the next dentist to come along
was Doctor William Morton, also in Massachusetts.
He'd actually been pre-dated by Doctor
Crawford Long in Great Britain, who did do surgery
under ether anesthesia, but didn't bother publishing
his results. So the first described and known
event in general anesthesia occurred
on October 16 1845. Doctor Morton
provided anesthesia to a young man
having a tumor removed from his neck
under ether anesthesia. And the chief surgeon
turned to the crowd in the room and said,
in the very pompous way of that Victorian era:
"Gentlemen, this is no humbug!"
and Morton's name was made. Morton
was a bit of a scamp unfortunately,
and he tried to make more out of this than
he was able to, by coloring ether
orange and then tried to
patent it as orange ether claiming it was superior
to regular ether, that had actually been around as a solvent
and cleaning agent for centuries.