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Portable anaesthetic kit, Germany, 1914-1918

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This anaesthetic kit would have been intended for use by the German Army during the First World War. Liquid anaesthetics such as ether or chloroform would be dropped on to the cotton cover from the brown glass bottle and inhaled by the patient before surgery. The bottle has a scale engraved on to the side to keep track of the dosage. Too much chloroform is dangerous but too little does not numb the patient. The cotton cover is stretched over a folding nickel-plated Schimmelbusch mask. The mask was designed by Curt Schimmelbusch (1860-1895), a German pathologist and surgeon. The kit is kept in a cotton bag labelled "Betäubungsgerät" – which translates from the German as “stunning equipment”.

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    Glossary: chloroform mask

    mask used to administer chloroform, usually made from cloth

    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.