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Maddox-type chloroform inhaler, London, England, 1847-1900

A chloroform-soaked sponge is placed in the large plated copper well and the vapours produced are inhaled by the patient to induce unconsciousness before surgical procedures. Chloroform is highly dangerous and a metal plate behind the perforated mouth piece prevents liquid chloroform being swallowed by the patient. However, once the potentially toxic nature of chloroform had become fully realised, it was used far more cautiously The inhaler was invented by James Edward Maddox, a surgical instrument maker based near University College London from 1847 to 1848.

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    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.