Ether/Or

A podcast about the history of anaesthesia, the gases we use to put people to sleep, and how the safety of patients became central to a modern speciality.


00:33:53 2021-11-20
Over sixty years after the discovery of chloroform anaesthesia, doctors would finally get a conclusive answer about its risks. And as we head towards the 200th anniversary of William Morton’s ether demonstration, new problems with the modern inhaled ana...
00:34:09 2021-11-13
Chloroform could stop patients breathing if you accidentally gave too much, but could it also cause the heart to suddenly stop beating? John Snow thought it did, but doctors in Scotland disagreed. Through the second half of the 19th century, the commissio...
00:36:10 2021-11-06
Chloroform's ease of use and lack of side effects compared to ether made it an attractive choice for doctors and patients, but as its use spread across the country, doctors and dentists using it would discover it could have sinister consequences both for ...
00:35:28 2021-10-30
Now ether anaesthesia had been discovered, how were doctors going to use it? And what was the experience like for the patients? As doctors struggled to get to grips with this new discovery, they'd look for solutions to some of ether's problems and an answ...
00:34:58 2021-10-23
Horace Wells' nitrous oxide demonstration had been a disaster, but in it an old colleague would see opportunity. A second demonstration of painless surgery would have an altogether different outcome, would turn colleagues into rivals, and would make peopl...

00:02:29 2021-10-03
Ether/Or is about the discovery of anaesthesia, and all its advantages. But it's also about the many problems that came with it. From failed attempts to fatal consequences, the introduction of anaesthesia in 1846 was a major leap forward for medicine and ...