A marvel of modern times
Anaesthesia comes from the Greek words meaning ‘‘without’’ and ‘‘sensation’’.
Before modern anaesthetics were developed the hallmark of a good surgeon was speed – the quicker a surgeon could operate the less time the patient was in pain.
Patients might have been given alcohol or opium and then been held down for the operation.
The development of anaesthetics gave surgeons time to operate more skilfully and undertake more complex operations.
The first public demonstration of the use of ether for an operation was on October 16, 1846, in Boston, in the United States.
The first time ether was used for surgery in New Zealand was in September 1847.
Now it is estimated that 4 million anaesthetics are administered in New Zealand and Australia each year.