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Junker-type inhaler for anaesthesia, London, England, 1867-1880

Ferdinand Ethelbert Junker (1828-1901) (sometimes spelt Ferdinand Adalbert Juncker) invented this type of inhaler in 1867. It was to be used with bichloride of methylene or chloroform as the anaesthetic. A graduated bottle of liquid anaesthetic in a leather case that hung from the anaesthetist’s lapel was connected to a hand pump, which was used to push air into the bottle. The vapour this created passed along rubber tubing to a face mask. This ‘blow over’ or ‘bubble through’ technique became one of the most popular for giving anaesthetics. It could be used to regulate the dosage easily but care had to be taken when connecting for use – if incorrectly put together the patient could swallow liquid chloroform.

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    Glossary: inhaler

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

    Glossary: chloroform

    A liquid formerly used as a general anaesthetic although no longer used for this purpose as it causes liver damage and affects the heart rate. It is now used in low concentration to treat flatulence.