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Murphy-type chloroform inhaler, Europe, 1850-1900

Edward William Murphy (1802-1877) invented this chloroform inhaler in 1848-1850. It was used for pain relief during medical procedures. The main drum held a sponge soaked with chloroform, the vapours of which were breathed in by the patient through the trumpet-shaped mouthpiece. Murphy’s inhaler was mostly used in obstetrics and child birth as it was small and easy to use. It was portable and could be held by the patient instead of the doctor – so he was free to aid the birth. Chloroform was first used as a pain reliever in childbirth in 1847.

Object number:

1981-1549

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    Glossary:

    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: obstetrics

    A branch of medicine dealing with the care of women. This care occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of recovery from childbirth.

    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.