World Anesthesia Day is celebrated by the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) globally on October 16 to mark the discovery of anesthesia on October 16, 1846. The day is celebrated to raise awareness of the importance of using anesthesia during surgeries and the crucial role played by various anesthesiologists around the world.
On the occasion of World Anesthesia Day, let us enlighten you of the fantastic history of this day and how it is celebrated worldwide.
World Anesthesia Day History & Significance
A Chinese physician, Hua Tuo invented an analgesic potion, named ‘mafeisan’, which is predominantly a mixture of herbs. The physician invented the portion as part of Chinese traditions during the Three Kingdoms period. He used it on one of his patients, General Kuan Yu, who had been poisoned with an arrow.
General Kuan Yu had the potion and got his surgery done while playing chess. This incident marks the first use of anesthesia during surgery.
Aureoles Theophrastus Bombastus Von Hohenheim aka Paracelsus, found the analgesic qualities of diethyl ether in the year 1525. Paracelsus knew the properties of ether since 16th-century but it wasn’t until another three centuries that it was used as an aesthetic.
Horace Wells, a dentist from Connecticut, observed a man inhaling nitrous oxide during a public display on December 11, 1844. The man had hit his shin on a bench but he felt no pain as the gas wore off. Wells was inspired by this and the next day on December 12, he inhaled a bag of nitrous oxide.
Since 1799, the inhalation of nitrous oxide became a recreational activity among the British upper class, and they were called the ‘laughing gas parties. Though he performed many tests on a plethora of his patients, he never patented his method.
On October 16, 1846, modern anesthesia came into play through a dentist named William Morton. He also used ether as an analgesic and performed the first public painless surgery and removed a tumor from a man’s neck. He had also previously worked with Wells and knew about his nitrous oxide experiments.
He began his experiment with sulphuric ether, with Dr. Charles T. Jackson and tried the first experiment on his dog and then a man named Eben Frost, for tooth extraction. He was successful and he was popularized.
James Young Simpson, an obstetrician from Scotland, was the first person who introduced the properties of chloroform for general medical use. He had earlier seen the effects of ether during childbirth, but he found it unpleasant and therefore began working with other chemicals. He and two of his friends inhaled chloroform on November 4, 1847, and felt very cheery and light but soon after, they collapsed.
When he woke up, he realized he has invented successful anesthesia. After this, chloroform was extensively used. It was later realized to be dangerous as the number of chloroform deaths began to increase.
Soon after, cocaine was discovered by Friedrich Gaedcke and Albert Niemann in 1855 and was extensively used by many physicians. It was also used in the eye for the first time by Karl Koller in the year 1884. This was a huge discovery in the medical industry. Because of this eye surgery became easier.
The first anesthetic use of the gas cyclopropane was discovered by Rovenstine along with Dr. Ralph M. Waters in the year 1929. It was first used as thoracic anesthesia and by 1939 cyclopropane was used for thoracic anesthesiologists. But because of its highly explosive qualities, it was believed that it can have fatal outcomes.
Dr. JM Graham experimented with spinal anesthesia on October 13, 1947, with two of his patients. After the surgery, they both were found to suffer from permanent spastic paraparesis. The effects were negative and permanent.
Ronald Melzack and Patrick David Wall invented a theory named gate control theory of pain in the year 1965, for major injuries with no pain, and minor injuries that experience severe pain. Combined with previous theories, the gate control theory was one of the most influential. It gave a neural basis.
On May 25, 2000, the first National Anesthesia Day was observed in Great Britain, conducted by the Royal College of Anesthetists. The World Anesthesia takes place globally every year on October 16, which was originally called the ‘Ether Day’.
The day is celebrated to mark the first successful display of ether anesthesia by William Morton at Massachusetts General Hospital on October 16, 1846. The first anesthetic college was created by the Royal Charter on March 16, 1992. It was responsible for educating and training about anesthesia in Britain. British General of Anesthesia is now the biggest and oldest independent journal of anesthesia
World Anesthesia Day 2023 Theme
The theme of this year has been declared as “Anaesthesia and Cancer Care”. The regional anesthesia used during the birth process which includes epidural, spinal, or systemic anesthesia, is often used these days. Women are opting for a painless birth and this year’s theme will highlight the pros and cons of using anesthesia during childbirth.
How is World Anesthesia Day Celebrated?
Anesthesiologists from across 150 countries take part in the celebrations worldwide. The various anesthetic departments engage in conferences, talking about the general use and importance of anesthesia.
Due to the outbreak of the pandemic Covid-19, there have been virtual meetings, where the head of the department addresses the day and marks the celebration of the first surgical use of anesthesia on October 16, 1846.
You can do your bit to celebrate the day by volunteering in different campaigns that take place on this day and make the world aware of the importance of good anesthesiologists in the world. Share a post on social media and thank them for providing you with painless surgeries.
Unknown Facts About Anesthesia
- You may not always fall asleep after anesthesia. Local anesthesia only numbs a particular area, regional anesthesia decreases pain in a larger area of your body, and general anesthesia makes you unconscious and not able to move, affecting the whole body.
- Smokers need more anesthesia as compared to non-smokers.
- Being heavy means more complications during anesthesia.
- You can very well wake up during surgery and then you’re given another dose to let you sleep (don’t worry you still won’t feel anything)
- General anesthesia has been called to cause temporary memory loss.