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Ellis-type compound inhaler, London, England, 1866-1885

This anaesthetic inhaler could be used to give a combination of alcohol, ether and chloroform or just one of these components. It was originally intended for obstetrics and childbirth and was probably also used for surgical procedures. The proportion of mixture could be controlled easily and was measured on the engraved scale. The inhaler was invented by Robert Ellis (1822-1885). The face mask used to inhale the vapours was invented by John Snow (1813-1858), the first specialised anaesthetist in the United Kingdom.

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Glossary: inhaler

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

Glossary: obstetrics

A branch of medicine dealing with the care of women. This care occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of recovery from childbirth.

Glossary: ether

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