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Read on to find out more information about the latest milestones and achievements regarding the field of surgical anesthesia.

Of all the milestones and achievements made in medicine, pain control is one of the few that has affected almost every person in the world. The primary motive of surgery was to save lives that were being lost to unknown conditions and diseases each year. This fact led to an increase in the practice of surgery and it was often a nightmare, because it brought horrible pain and suffering to the patient.

In an effort to alleviate the pain of surgery, doctors used any and all kinds of means. Some used herbs and plant extracts such as opium and marijuana, while others used alcohol to render the patient unconscious. Other surgeons went a bit further and would place a blow to the head of a patient to knock them out. Such practices were arbitrary and often had detrimental consequences.

Surgical Anesthesia Invented

Joseph Priestly, an English scientist, was the first to discover that inhaled nitrous oxide may have the potential to relieve pain. Other medical experts followed suit and used other gases such as carbon dioxide to induce similar results. Cocaine was injected into the mouth, eyes and other areas of the body in order to block nerve impulses. However, diethyl ether and nitrous oxide gained popularity after two American dentists started to use these gases in their practice, until it failed to work during a tooth surgery demonstration at Massachusetts General Hospital.

A Boston dentist by the name of William Thomas Green Morton correctly concluded it was a good idea, but that these gases were not powerful enough to produce an anesthetic effect. He began to experiment with another gas called sulfuric ether. After using the gas successfully on animals and human dental patients, on October 16th, 1846, Dr Morton publicly demonstrated the application of ether when removing a tumor from the neck of a patient. The operation went off without a hitch and at the end of 1847, books and literature about ether anesthesia started appearing in the US and many countries throughout Europe. For the very first time, a safe and consistent anesthesia was available.

Crawford Long: 'The Pioneer Of Surgical Anesthesia'

Different anesthesia practices were used during this time, but Crawford Long revived the field of surgical anesthesia through using diethyl ether as an anesthetic. This discovery was based on his observations and earned him the nickname "The Pioneer of Surgical Anesthesia". In honor of his groundbreaking discovery, he is recognized on "Doctor’s Day", to celebrate the birth of anesthesia that eliminated human pain.

Risks Associated With General Anesthesia

Usually, general anesthesia is safe for people who are healthy, but there are some who may risk problems and these include:

  • Smokers
  • People suffering from drug and/or alcohol addiction or abuse
  • People who have a personal or family history of medicine allergies
  • Those with heart, lung and/or kidney problems
You may wish to speak to your doctor about possible complications such as death, lung infection, heart attack, vocal cord damage, mental confusion, stroke, trauma to the teeth or tongue and waking up during anesthesia.
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