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Skinner's improved mask for chloroform anaesthesia, London, England, 1862-1901

Thomas Skinner (1825-1906), a gynaecologist working in Liverpool, later specialised in anaesthetics and introduced this flannel covered wire mask in 1862. It was a new and easy way of giving pain relief. It could be used for either chloroform or ether, which would have been in liquid form and dropped on to the mask for the patient to inhale. The mask needed an extra nose clip to ensure that the patient inhaled the entire dosage of pain killer. Skinner’s mask was popular into the 1900s and was easily portable.

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    Glossary: chloroform mask

    mask used to administer chloroform, usually made from cloth

    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: 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.