History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search

Narratives

Exhibition Label : Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics display (April - August 2008) - Masks and Droppers

Masks and Droppers

In the early years of anaesthesia, the usual method of administering
the anaesthetic was to hold a cloth or sponge soaked in
ether or chloroform to the patient’s nose and mouth. However,
this could restrict the patient’s breathing and so from the 1860s
onwards wire-framed masks were developed. These were covered
in layers of gauze or flannel that were soaked in the anaesthetic.
Special dropper bottles were designed that allowed the anaesthetist
to measure carefully how much of the anaesthetic was being
poured onto the cloth. This ‘open’ use of ether and chloroform
continued well into the twentieth century.

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