Check out these informative slides from the ASA (American Society of Anesthesiologists)
Files are in Microsoft PowerPoint
We can be happy times have changed
Anesthesia dates back to the mid-1800's when the use of ether made it possible to perform surgery without the patient feeling pain. Crawford W. Long was said to be the first to use ether in a surgery in which a growth was removed from a patients neck (see article).
The first demonstration of ether anesthesia was in the Etherdome of the Massachusetts General Hospital on October 16th, 1846. The patient, Gilbert Abbott, had a tumor on his neck. W.T.G. Morton, a dentist who would give the anesthetic, held a glass of ether up to his face. The surgeon was Professor John Warren (see article).
Before then, what did doctor's use? Surgeon's were rated for their speed, not precision. Patients were terrified of surgery or dental work because the doctor came marching in the operating room with two bottles of whiskey-one for the patient and one for him-so he could endure the patients screams (see article).
In an estimation, anesthesia was ready to take on cardiac surgery in about 1942 for by that time oxygen and ether had been shown to be a reliable safe anesthetic, the blood pressure cuff and stethoscope had been used for about forty years to monitor the safety of patients under anesthesia and the Cambridge Simplitrol portable ECG machine, although cumbersome, was being recommended for perioperative use. The latter had been introduced by Dr. Wayne Smith, a general practitioner from Providence, Rhode Island. The endotracheal tube was in general use, blood banks had been established and Dr. Harold Griffith had introduced Curare into the practice of anesthesia which made controlled ventilation in light anesthesia possible.
Since then, medicine has progressed rapidly. An estimated 25 million anesthetics are administered each year in this country. Anesthesiologists and CRNAs provide or participate in more than 90 percent of these anesthetics. In the operating room, they are responsible for the medical management and anesthetic care of the patient throughout the duration of the surgery. In the recovery room, while safety is of course the foremost priority during surgery, it is also of utmost concern that the patient be monitored and continually assessed while fully regaining consciousness. In most cases, the anesthesiologist decides when the patient has recovered enough to be sent home following outpatient surgery or has been stabilized sufficiently to be moved to a regular room or ward in the medical facility.
Today, anesthesia covers a broad spectrum of medical treatment. Anesthesiologists specialize in techniques such as cardiac catheterizations, pediatric, pain medicine, critical care, trauma medicine and angioplasty procedures for emergency airway management or resuscitation if necessary.