History Of Anesthesia
While the search for pain control during surgery dates back to the ancient world, it was not until 1846 that it went on record that a patient was successfully rendered unconscious during a surgical procedure. Performed in a Boston hospital, the operation used a gas called ether to anesthetize the patient while a neck tumor was removed. In Western medicine, the development of anesthesia has made possible complex operations like open heart surgery and organ transplants. Medical tests that would otherwise be impossible to perform are routinely carried out with the use of anesthesia.
Before the landmark discovery of ether as an anesthetic, patients who needed surgery for either illness or injury had to face the surgeon's knife with only the help of alcohol, opium, or other narcotics. Often a group of men held the patient down during the operation in case the narcotic or alcohol wore off before it was over. Under these conditions many patients died just from the pain of the operation.
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