by John C. Warren,
by John Collins Warren, MD, describing the operation that he performed
in 1846 on Gilbert Abbott, marking the first successful demonstration
of ether at the Massachusetts Genral Hospital.
is remarkable in the annals of surgery. It was the first surgical
operation performed under the influence of ether. Dr. Warren had
been applied to by Mr. Morton, a dentist, with the request that
he would try the inhalation of a fluid which, he said, he had found
to be effectual in preventing pain during operations on the table.
Dr. Warren, having satisfied himself that the breathing of the fluid
would be harmless, agreed to employ it when an opportunity presented.
Now occurring in private practice within a day or two, he determined
to use it on this patient.
Before the operation began some time
was lost in waiting for Mr. Morton, and ultimately it was thought
he would not appear. At length he arrived and explained his detention
by informing Dr. Warren that he had been occupied in preparing his
apparatus, which consisted of a tube connected with a glass globe.
he then proceeded to apply,
and after four or five minutes the patient appeared to be asleep,
and the operation was performed, as herein described. To the surprise
of Dr. Warren and the other gentlemen present, the patient did not
shrink nor cry out, but during the insulation of the veins he began
to move his limbs and utter extraordinary expressions, and these movements
seemed to indicate the existence of pain; but after he had recovered
his faculties, he said he had experienced none, but only a sensation
like that of scraping the part with a blunt instrument, and he ever
after continued to say he had not felt any pain.
the surprise of Dr. Warren and the other gentlemaen present
the patient did not shrink nor cry out.
results of this operation led to the repetition of the use of ether
in other cases and in a few days its success was established, and
its use resorted to in every considerable operation in the city
of Boston and its vicinity.
a daguerreotype of an 1847 operation in which ether was administered
and the surgical notes of 1846 describe the case of Gilbert Abbott
upon his admission to the MGH, several weeks before undergoing the
historic procedure. Right: a replica of Mortons inhaler.