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The Wife of Seishu Hanaoka

still from film  The Wife of Seishu Hanaoka

Director : Masumura Yasuzo
Japan, 1967, 99 min, 35mm, b&w

The Wife of Seishu Hanaoka (1967) is a film set in feudal Japan. Its two central characters are based on the wife and mother of Japanese physician Seishu Hanaoka (1760-1835). Hanaoka developed a herbal general anaesthetic, "Tsusensan", some forty years before the better-known innovations of his American counterparts Long, Wells and Morton.

Hanaoka performed the world's first mastectomy under general anaesthesia in October 1804. His disciples and trainees continued the surgical tradition he founded after his death.

In the wider world, the prospect of pain-free surgery seemed a utopian fantasy for years to come.


Snow White
Utopian Surgery
The Doctor's Wife
Japan's Seishu Hanaoka
Refs and Further Reading
Anaesthesia and Anaesthetics