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Copy of the Squire-type ether inhaler first used in 1846

The original Squire-type ether inhaler was used by Robert Liston (1794-1847) on 21 December 1846 to perform the first operation in England under anaesthetic, at University College Hospital London. He amputated a leg from Frederick Churchill, a chauffeur. After surgery was completed, the patient reported that he was unaware that the operation had even taken place. Vapours from ether-soaked sponges in the top of the inhaler collect in the chamber at the bottom. The vapours are inhaled by the patient through the metal face mask. The device is named after Peter Squire, a pharmacist commissioned by Liston to make the inhaler.

Object number:

A600324

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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: ether

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