The Vicissitudes of Ether

As Snow increasingly focused his practice on administration of anesthesia, it became evident that the benefits of ether were growing more complex, as well. It not only prevented pain and shock, it kept patients still. With ether dislocations could be relaxed and treated in minutes, whereas in the past gradual applications of warm baths and emetics were typical and marginally effective treatments. Snow's comments to the military physicians on the use of ether to detect some cases of malingering,...

Assistant 18301836

SNOW WAS SEVENTEEN WHEN he read John Frank Newton's essay The Return to Nature A Defence of the Vegetable Regimen. The argument convinced him that a vegetarian diet would reduce irritation of the intestines and promote personal health. Newton's form of vegetarianism included a fastidious attention to drinking water, purifying it by distillation and testing its purity chemically. Newton's essay convinced Snow that diet, pure water, and a healthy colon were essential to one's well-being.1 Newton...

Hannah Greener

On 22 October 1847 a fifteen-year-old girl named Hannah Greener was admitted to the Newcastle Infirmary suffering from an ingrown toenail on the big toe of her left foot. The big toe on her right foot was also affected, but less so. She had not had much of an appetite lately but was otherwise healthy. A few days later the surgeon to the infirmary, H. G. Potter, operated to remove the left toenail. Ether was to be used, but the first two inhalers failed to produce the desired effect. A third...

Five Degrees of Etherization

In early May 1847 Snow's portrait was on display in the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square in the rooms occupied by the Royal Academy of Arts. In addition, he had been invited to present a lecture-demonstration at the United Service Institution for its medical members, including physicians in the army and the Royal Navy.58 Snow used this lecture to cover many aspects of ether anesthesia. Early in the lecture, he suffered a mishap. He placed a thrush in a jar containing one-third ether vapor...

Notes

On 16 October 1846 the Boston dentist William Thomas Green Morton gave a successful ether demonstration at Massachusetts General Hospital. Several letters arrived in England between mid-November and mid-December 1846 communicating news of ether inhalation. The first was from a Boston lawyer who was assisting Morton in securing a patent Ellis, Early ether anaesthesia, 69-76. A letter describing Morton's demonstration from Edward Everett, president of Harvard, to Henry Holland, a London...

The London Medical Schools

When Snow arrived in metropolitan London twenty-one schools of varying size and curricular range competed for students of medicine and surgery, who had to amass the required certificates of attendance at lectures, anatomical demonstrations, and dissecting Fig. 3.2 . Some of these schools were attached to hospitals where a student could also satisfy clinical requirements. Most were proprietary schools that offered a full complement of lecture courses, although a few advertised only a limited...

Uncle Charles Empson in Newcastle

Hardcastle's practice extended beyond the town walls to include the mining village of Killingworth connected to the West Moor colliery. For several years he was general practitioner for the family of George Stephenson, the pioneering mining and railway engineer who invented the first steam locomotive, The Rocket. Hardcastle developed a close friendship with Stephenson's son, Robert, and introduced him to Charles Empson, Fanny Snow's half-brother. The three men were urbane, cosmopolitan, and...

Designing an Inhaler

When Snow published in two parts, on 12 and 19 March his first survey On the inhalation of the vapour of ether, he immediately hammered out the clinical implications of his laboratory researches It will be at once admitted that the medical practitioner ought to be acquainted with the strength of the various compounds which he applies as remedial agents, and that he ought, if possible, to be able to regulate their potency. The compound of ether vapour and air is no exception to this rule. . ....