Early ether administration methods

Top: Using a drip-cloth to put a woman in labor under anesthesia.
Second: Gauze-filled face-piece used in the same manner as the drip-cloth (by soaking the covering material).
Third: Automatic pressurized ether gas administration mask.
Fourth: Manual ether gas administration mask.

The early anesthesia gasses consisted of nitrous oxide (laughing gas), ether, and chloroform. Ether was the most effective in putting people under, and had the largest therapeutic index (the difference between the recommended dosage and a toxic overdose), but had significant side-effects (such as nausea and vomiting, even before consciousness was regained, resulting in aspiration), and suppressed the autonomic breathing reflex in high enough concentrations.

Today, the only one of the three original anesthetic gasses that is still in use is nitrous oxide. It’s generally used along with local anesthetic, since it is not of the best use in causing complete unconsciousness, but its action on the brain decreases discomfort whilst awake.

Images:
An American Text-Book of Obstetrics for Practitioners and Students. Edited by Richard C. Norris, 1895.
High-Grade Hospital Furniture and Appliances Catalog. Max Wocher & Son, 1905.

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