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Hewitt's modification of Clover's portable ether inhaler, cased, Leeds, England, 1902-1920

Joseph Clover (1825-1882) invented a portable ether inhaler in 1877. Frederick William Hewitt (1857-1916), a British anaesthetist, modified Clover’s invention in 1901. Hewitt’s modifications made the patient more comfortable and reduced the risks associated with anaesthesia. Risks include noisy breaths due to blockage of the upper airways (stertor), laboured breathing and cyanosis, a bluish discoloration caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood. Hewitt’s design meant more ether could be added to the inhaler during surgery without removing the mask from the patient’s face.

Object number:

A608284

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    Glossary: cyanosis

    A bluish discolouration, applied especially to such discolouration of skin and mucous membranes due to excessive concentration of reduced haemoglobin in the blood.

    Glossary: stertor

    A noisy inspiration occurring in coma or deep sleep, sometimes due to obstruction of the larynx or upper airways.

    Glossary: anaesthetic

    An agent that causes insensitivity to pain. Applied to either the whole body (general anaesthetic) or a particular area or region (local anaesthetic).

    Glossary: inhaler

    A device for breathing in a drug in order to deliver it to the airways or lungs.

    Glossary: ether

    A volatile liquid (resulting from the action of sulphuric acid upon alcohol) formerly used as an anaesthetic. Ether was usually inhaled.