REVIEW – August 2011

A gift to the mankind: remarks about the introduction of ether anaesthesia


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The chemical compound diethyl ether was discovered in 1275. In 1526 the famous physician Paracelsus described its anesthetic and hypnotic effect in animals. At the beginning of the 19th century, „ether frolics“, i.e. the euphoric sensation from inhalation of ether became popular among young people, especially students. The first operations under ether anaesthesia were performed by C.W. Long in 1842. The first public demonstration of ether anaesthesia in surgery was made by W. Morton in Boston. Following these first attempts, ether anaesthesia became widely used all over the world. After World War II modern anesthesia equipments were constructed and a combined anaesthesic – ether with nitrous oxide – was introduced.

The implementation of ether anaesthesia served as a remarkable stimulus for the development of modern surgery.