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Morgan-type ether inhaler, United Kingdom, 1881-1890

John H Morgan (1847-1924), a surgeon, introduced his inhaler in the 1880s – one of a range of designs developed by individuals working in this field. An ether-soaked sponge was placed in the end of the cone and the vapours inhaled though the other end. The inlet in the top was used for fresh air, while other valves were used to remove the air that the patient breathed out and to keep the inhaler warm. Morgan introduced his design to better control the dosage of the anaesthetic, and also to reduce the amount of ether vapour escaping into the room, thus preventing the anaesthetist and surgeon becoming drowsy.

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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: ether

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