Fact File about the Invention of Anesthesia: Invention: Anesthesia *** Date of Invention: 1846 *** Name of Inventor: Thomas Green Morton *** Lifespan of Inventor: 1819 - 1868 *** Nationality of Inventor: American *** Category: Medical *** Country of Origin: America *** Facts about the Inventor, Thomas Green Morton, and the invention of
Fact 1: Who invented Anesthesia? Anesthesia was invented by Thomas Green Morton in 1846 during the First US Industrial Revolution era of inventions (1700 - 1860).
Fact 2: Who invented Anesthesia? What are the different types of
anesthesia? There are three main types of anesthesia that are administered so
that the patient patient is unable to feel pain - General, Local and Regional.
Fact 3: Who invented Anesthesia? General: A General anesthestic makes the
patient unconscious, unresponsive, unable to feel pain and may also have
Fact 4: Who invented Anesthesia? Local: A Local anesthestic numbs
one small area of the body and the patient stays awake and alert.
Fact 5: Who invented Anesthesia? Regional e.g. Epidural: The third type
of anesthesia is a Regional anesthestic, such as epidural anesthesia, which
blocks pain in a specific area of the body of a conscious patient.
Fact 6: Who invented Anesthesia? Anesthetic medicine is inhaled as a gas
through a breathing mask or tube, or given through an intravenous (IV) line.
Fact 7: Who invented Anesthesia? Prior to the invention of Anesthesia in 1846,
much minor or major surgery was performed on people who were wide-awake.
Frequently restrained by straps unfortunate patients were often held down on the
operating table by men who had to ignore the patients pleas and screams so that
the surgeon could do his job.
Fact 8: Who invented Anesthesia? The pain endured by patients prior to
the invention of Anesthesia was horrific but there were also significant
dangers, many resulting in death, due to the lack of cleanliness in the
operating room and the terrible infections which would overcome the patient
Fact 9: Who invented Anesthesia? The germ theory of disease, establishing
the relationship between germs (micro organisms) and disease, was not discovered
until the 1880's when Louis Pasteur (1822 - 1895) and Robert Koch (1843 - 1910)
provided convincing evidence of the relationship. Consequently, most surgeons
during the early 1800's did not understand the necessity of the thorough washing
of hands, surgical instruments and the operating table as a basic requirement
prior to surgery.
Fact 10: Who invented Anesthesia? William T. G. Morton's discovery
was not immediately acclaimed by the medical world or the public due to high
mortality rates following surgery due to unhygienic practices. Surgeons were
also used to communicating with patients during surgery and were reluctant to
work on an unconscious patient. However, the opportunity to perform painless
surgery with the use of ether anesthesia quickly gained the medical world’s
acceptance of surgical anesthesia.
Fact 11: Who invented Anesthesia? The inventor of Anesthesia, Thomas Green Morton, was born on August 9, 1819 in Charlton, Massachusetts, United States and died on July 15, 1868.
Fact 12: Who invented Anesthesia? The early years of William T. G. Morton were spent in Charlton, Massachusetts, United States where he was raised by his family. Thomas Green Morton was educated at Harvard University
Fact 13: Who invented Anesthesia? Following his education he established
a dental practice in Boston in 1844. His partner was another dentist called
Horace Wells (1815 - 1848). Horace Wells began to experiment with the
pain-killing properties of nitrous oxide ("laughing gas"). Nitrous oxide , or
laughing gas, was discovered in 1772 by the English chemist Joseph Priestley and
in 1799 the British scientist, Sir Humphry Davy, discovered that Nitrous oxide
made him laugh, and feel less pain - hence its nickname of 'laughing gas'.
Fact 14: Who invented Anesthesia? Horace Wells demonstrated the method of
using "laughing gas" at the Massachusetts General Hospital in January 1845 but
the demonstration was a dismal failure. His patient failed to respond to the
"laughing gas" and Horace Wells was ridiculed.
Fact 15: Who invented Anesthesia? The partnership between Horace Wells
and William T. G. Morton quickly ended as Wells became unstable due to frequent
inhalation of chemical vapors. Horace Wells underwent a complete personality
change, he was jailed for throwing acid at a passer-by and committed suicide on
January 24, 1848 at the age of 33 years old.
Fact 16: Who invented Anesthesia? William T. G. Morton, working with a
physician called Dr. Charles Thomas Jackson, continued the quest to discover a
way to conduct painless dentistry. On September 30, 1846 William T. G. Morton
anaesthetised a patient called Eben H. Frost by the inhalation of sulfuric ether
and successfully removed an ulcerated tooth painlessly using Ether Anesthesia.
Fact 17: Who invented Anesthesia? On October 16, 1846 William T. G.
Morton gave a demonstration to doctors of ether as an anesthestic during surgery
at Massachusetts General Hospital. William T.G. Morton instructed the patient,
Edward Gilbert Abbott, to inhale the fumes from an ether-soaked sponge. After
Abbott was sufficiently sedated, a surgeon, Dr. John Collins Warren removed a
tumor from his neck.
Fact 18: Who invented Anesthesia? The patient Edward Gilbert Abbott felt
no pain during the surgery, which amazed the doctors and medical students. After
the ether demonstration the surgical theater at Massachusetts General Hospital
was nicknamed the Ether Dome, and it has been known by this name ever since.
Fact 19: Who invented Anesthesia? William T.G. Morton and Charles T.
Jackson applied for a patent on November 12, 1846, for an 'Improvement in
surgical operations' with the use of ether, impregnated with essential oil
providing a combination of ethereal and narcotic vapors producing the state of
Fact 20: Who invented Anesthesia? On November 12, 1846 the famous
American poet, Oliver Wendell Holmes, wrote to William T. G. Morton suggesting
the word 'anaesthesia' to describe the mental state produced by the inhalation
of the ether vapor.
Fact 21: Who invented Anesthesia? Letter patent No. 4848 was issued for
10% of all profits on the use of ether in surgical operations. This caused an
uproar in the medical community and Jackson and Morton quickly made their
discovery known and freely available to all and the use of ether anaesthesia
spread around the world.
Fact 22: Who invented Anesthesia? Following the invention of anesthesia,
a Scottish doctor, Sir James Young Simpson (1811-1870), discovered the
anaesthetic properties of chloroform in 1848 and pioneered its use in surgery
helping to popularise chloroform for use in medicine.
Fact 23: Who invented Anesthesia? In 1859 an Austrian doctor and
ophthalmologist called Karl Koller introduced cocaine as a local anaesthetic for
eye surgery. Cocaine later became the first effective local anesthestic.
Fact 24: Who invented Anesthesia? The American Civil War (1861 - 1865)
erupted and William T.G. Morton became a volunteer surgeon with the Union Army
of the Potomac and applied ether anesthesia to more than 2000 wounded soldiers.
Fact 25: Who invented Anesthesia? William T.G. Morton died on July 15, 1868
following a stroke and was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Middlesex County,
Massachusetts. He will be remembered as the inventor of ether anesthesia and his
efforts to introduce painless surgery.