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Revista Brasileira de Anestesiologia

Print version ISSN 0034-7094

Abstract

MAIA, R icardo Jakson de Freitas  and  FERNANDES, Cláudia Regina. Dawning of inhalational anesthesia: a historical perspective. Rev. Bras. Anestesiol. [online]. 2002, vol.52, n.6, pp. 774-782. ISSN 0034-7094.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0034-70942002000600015.

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: History, unlike one may imagine, is not something unchangeable and limited to the past. It is adapted according to conveniences of one or other ruling social class. Deliberately or accidentally hidden information, when unveiled may change current concepts, so far taken for granted. So, history, as any other science, is not totally impartial; it suffers influences and interferences of political, religious, economic and cultural thinking. The same is true for anesthesia. Some questions remain unanswered: Why did it take so long for the civilization to control pain? Who did in fact discover Anesthesia? How was the world when Anesthesia was officially discovered? To discuss such questions it is necessary to go back to the History of Anesthesia. CONTENTS: This paper addresses the surgical act, pain and anesthesia from the Hellenic culture to the first officially recognized anesthesia, often emphasizing forgotten names and historical peculiarities which have benefited or harmed one or other discoverer. It also focuses on values, culture and scientific developments of the 19th century, correlating them to events that marked the dawning of anesthesia. CONCLUSIONS: It would be unfair to attribute the merit of discovering anesthesia to a single person. Historical peculiarities that benefited or harmed one or other researcher cannot be forgotten. Morton was undoubtedly the most favored by the circumstances. He lived in a privileged time and place and has met the most adequate people to his intent. However there is still a question. After all, who is the most important: the father of the idea or who disclosed it? The answer will certainly remain in the field of subjectivity.

Keywords : ANESTHESIA [General]; ANESTHESIA [inhalational]; ANESTHESIOLOGY [history].

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