Early inhaler for ether anaesthesia, 1847-1848.

Image number: 10322298

Early inhaler for ether anaesthesia, 1847-1848.

This inhaler consists of a glass vessel that contains ether-soaked sponges, connected to a facemask by tubing. The mouthpiece has inspiratory and expiratory valves. Air would be drawn through the bottle and over the sponges as the patient breathed in. It was made by Weiss of London and is inscribed with the name 'Letheon', a name adopted for ether during W T Morton's unsuccessful attempts to conceal its identity and retain control of its use in the 1840s. The first successful operation on a patient rendered unconscious by anaesthetic was carried out using ether in 1846. Ether was regarded as safe to use, but was slow to take its anaesthetic effect. It has been superseded by safer, more effective anaesthetics.

Image number:
10322298
Credit:
Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
Date taken:
20 October 2003 16:27
Image rights:
Science Museum