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Anesthesiologist Assistants

History

Modern anesthetics were developed and improved upon starting in the 1800s. Prior to this, people either lived through their illnesses or braved surgery with little, if any, relief for the pain. It was common for patients to be restrained throughout the surgical procedure, such as in a special "surgical chair" during bladder surgery, as described by an 18th-century French encyclopedia.

Mankind has tried for centuries to manage pain. A wide variety of substances and techniques have been used, such as opium, cannabis, alcohol, mandragora root, and even hypnotism. These have not been consistently reliable or completely effective.

The first gas to be recognized for anesthetic properties was nitrous oxide, developed in the late 1700s, and ether was developed shortly after. Both gases were not used at that time to anesthetize humans but rather for entertainment. For instance, nitrous oxide, nicknamed "laughing gas" because it causes giddiness, was often used for entertainment purposes at "laughing gas parties" or by sideshow entertainers.

In 1842, Dr. Crawford W. Long was the first to successfully use ether as an anesthetic during surgery to remove a tumor on a friend's neck. The event was not publicized, however, and thus in 1846, Dr. William T. G. Morton, a Boston dentist, was credited with discovering general anesthesia when he successfully administered ether to anesthetize a patient while removing a tumor. A year later, chloroform was used successfully for the first time.

Development in anesthesiology continued in the years that followed, including the first intravenous administration in 1875. The 20th and 21st centuries have brought about many advances in anesthesiology and it continues to enhance and improve surgical practice.

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