William Wright, aurist: nineteenth century
pneumatic practitioner and a discoverer of anesthesia

by
Bergman NA.
Department of Anesthesiology,
Oregon Health Sciences University,
Portland 97201.
Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 1994 Jun;103(6):483-6


ABSTRACT

William Wright (1773-1860) was Surgeon-Aurist in Ordinary to Her Majesty Queen Charlotte of England. One interesting feature of his otologic practice was his employment of gases and vapors in treating deafness and other disorders of the ear. Among aeroform substances that he advocated for such uses were nitrous oxide and ether--gases that were destined to become anesthetic agents in another quarter of a century. Wright made the observation that inhalation of ether vapor would suppress the cough elicited by instrumentation of an inflamed and sensitive ear canal. He used ether inhalation beginning about 1820 in his practice for this purpose, and in so doing appears to have administered some of the earliest anesthetics on record.
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