Ether frolicsBMJ 2013; 346 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f3861 (Published 13 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3861
- Wendy Moore, freelance writer and author, London
As with buses, you wait several millenniums for a painless approach to surgery and then four would-be pioneers come along at once. Yet medical immortality is invariably conferred on he—and it’s usually he—who shouts first and most loudly.⇑
The US dentist William Morton is widely hailed as the inventor of pain free surgery after he used ether to extract a patient’s tooth on 30 September 1846. A few weeks later, on 16 October, Morton administered ether during an operation to remove a neck tumour from a patient at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. News travelled quickly. In England, Robert Liston lost no time in claiming the laurels for …
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