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Anesthesia - Essay Example

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Anesthesia and the Alleviation of Human Suffering Before anesthesia was discovered, surgery was a painful affair. It is, hence, considered as last option, particularly in saving a life. Surgeons turn to crude methods such as drugging the patient to sleep or hypnotizing them in order to give relief…
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Download file to see previous pages It not only paved the way for a more effective and efficient surgery but that it also provided a way to treat and operate patients in a most humane method. History The development of anesthesia followed a gradual and logical evolution. Between 9th and 13th centuries, the primitive methods that doctors used to help in surgeries were poultices of herbs such as Mandrake leaves, black nightshade and poppies, which constituted the soporific sponge, widely used to induce unconsciousness prior to surgery (1). Intoxication was also a preferred approach as deep sleep and unconsciousness were the only means to undergo surgical procedure. It was only during the 18th century when the beginnings of anesthesia emerged. In 1840, ether was discovered. The most notable incident that brought attention to this new medical discovery was the public ether administration by William Thomas Green Morton to Gilbert Abbott at Massachusetts General Hospital. Morton was a dentist and the procedure on Mr. Abbott involved the painless removal of a tumor from the patient’s neck. This was historic moment and the practice of using ether swiftly spread. A parallel development in India also transpired within the same period. In 1847, chloroform anesthesia was administered in Calcutta and its use became prevalent in India by 1848. According to Roy and Saha, this version proved less effective since several people died after it was administered (1). This was confirmed the James Young Simpson’s experience with the chemical (2). In his practice, he used chloroform because it was considered more potent than ether but it was found to have adverse side effects such as liver damage and sudden death (1). Essentially, what was discovered during this period was general anesthesia, which was the combination of nitrous, ether and chloroform. This turning point is widely seen as a critical contributor in the manner how surgery has developed rapidly as a science. The succeeding years saw the further improvement of anesthesia. For instance, in the 1920s, local anesthesia was developed. This is the type of anesthesia inhibits the sensory perception of a specific part of the body. Schuttler cited that this led to the development of peripheral plexus blockades, lumbar peridural anesthesia and some versions of spinal anesthesia (3). Another important breakthrough was perhaps the discovery of halothane during the 1950s, which addressed the problems in the combination of ether and chloroform: flammability and unfavorable kinetics (4). The combination of halogen and ether, or more specifically, the refinement of the use of halogenated ether built on the successes and efficacies of earlier forms of anesthesia while introducing new advantages at the same time. Through the years, more developments and improvements followed, which included, not only anesthetic technologies, but also methodological innovations and best practices as well the growing understanding and specialization of anesthesia as an area in medical practice. Impact on Medical Practice As has been cited earlier, anesthesia provided the impetus for the development of surgery as a science. When - in the past - it was considered a last resort, today the case is different. Surgery is one of the most effective procedures in medicine, saving lives in efficient and painless manner. By diminishing pain or eliminating it entirely in the equation, anesthesia has enabled surgeons to take more time when ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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