chapter  32
Founders of Modern Surgery
Pages 2

Elie Metchnikoff (1845-1921)— a well-respected Russian zoologist, director of the Pasteur Institute (1895-1916), and 1908 Nobel laureate-published an impor­ tant monograph dealing with the Founders of Modern Medicine. He observed:

Anesthesia At the dawn of the 19th century, surgeons could not manage their two most

important foes-pain and infection. Crawford Williamson Long (1815-1878), a doctor from Danielsville, Georgia, used ether for the first time on March 30, 1842, while extracting a small neck tumor painlessly from James Venable. Long did not publish his discovery until 1849. By then, William Thomas Green Morton (1819-1868), a Boston dentist, had used ether in an operation performed by John Collins Warren at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846. Morton had used ether during tooth extraction in 1844 at the suggestion of Charles T. Jackson, a chemistry professor from Harvard University. Morton and Jackson battled endlessly over their respective contributions, but Morton eventually shared the credit with Jackson. Horace Wells, a dentist who had given himself nitrous oxide on December 11, 1844, before having a tooth extracted, became the second to use anesthesia to prevent surgical pain. Morton is probably the main protagonist of the anesthesia story, because he undertook the steps necessary to bring anesthesia into the operat­ ing theater. Long did not publish his results, and so he cannot receive full credit. Wells and Jackson did not pursue anesthesia to its logical application as part of a well-planned surgical case.