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Braun ether and chloroform inhaler, Germany, 1901-1940

Devised in 1901 by Heinrich Braun (1862-1934), a German physician and surgeon, this inhaler uses chloroform and/or ether to numb patients for surgery. The scale moulded on to the side of the glass was used to control how much anaesthetic the patient received, whereas the taps at the top controlled how much air is mixed with the ether and chloroform. The face mask where vapours were inhaled would have been connected using rubber tubing. Made by German company Narco, this example was owned and used from 1910 to 1940 by a Dr J D Whitney, who was based in London.

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    Glossary: anaesthetic

    An agent that causes insensitivity to pain. Applied to either the whole body (general anaesthetic) or a particular area or region (local anaesthetic).

    Glossary: inhaler

    A device for breathing in a drug in order to deliver it to the airways or lungs.

    Glossary: chloroform

    A liquid formerly used as a general anaesthetic although no longer used for this purpose as it causes liver damage and affects the heart rate. It is now used in low concentration to treat flatulence.

    Glossary: ether

    A volatile liquid (resulting from the action of sulphuric acid upon alcohol) formerly used as an anaesthetic. Ether was usually inhaled.