Finland's first anaesthesia
revealed by newspapers

Tammisto T, Tammisto C.
Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 1999 Jan;43(1):97-


BACKGROUND: According to the literature on the history of anaesthesia, Finland's first anaesthesia was given on March 8, 1847 for a ligature of an aneurysm of the subclavian artery. It has, however, not been possible to verify the date with certainty. We therefore wanted to find out whether newspapers might give additional information and how this exceptionally important medical invention had been received by the Finnish newspapers. METHODS: Microfilms of the 10 newspapers which appeared in Finland in 1847 were studied at the Helsinki University library. RESULTS: The first report which made reference to English newspapers was published on February 10 by "Borga Tidning". On March 6, "Helsingfors Tidningar" wrote that two anaesthesias had already been given in Helsinki; the first of them for a difficult varicose veins operation and the second for an exarticulation of a shoulder. But there was no information regarding the dates of the operations. Fortunately, both operations had been recorded in the patient diary of the clinic, although without any information about the anaesthesia. According to the diary, Johan August Orn was operated for varicose veins on February 16 and Anders Gustaf Henrikson had his right arm exarticulated on March 3. Both patients recovered. In total, only six pieces of news on anaesthesia were found. CONCLUSIONS: Finland's first anaesthesia was given on February 16, 1847, which is three weeks earlier than had been previously assumed.
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