Since the early civilizations, anaesthesia for surgical operation has been associated with a state of unconsciousness. Various, in fact, have been the “potions” used to suppress consciousness for surgical intervention over the centuries. Ether was discovered independently by Valerius Cordus (1515-1544), by Paracelsus (1493-1541), and possibly earlier by Lullius. Paracelsus having administered ether to chickens notes: “... and they fall asleep from it for a while but awaken later without harm ... it quiets all suffering without any harm, and relieves all pain, and quences all fevers, and prevents complications in all illnesses”. Human beings had to wait (and suffer) for a few centuries after the discovery of ether before this substance was introduced in clinical anaesthesia by William Morton in 1846. Even nowadays, anaesthesia is perceived by the layman as a state of unconsciousness. In the 150 years since Morton’s demonstration, the practice of anaesthesia has developed beyond his wildest dreams. This development has come from the foresight and diligence of countless open-minded men and women whose efforts and researches have helped human beings to relieve their sufferings and the practice of surgery to advance. They have developed many theories on how anaesthetics work. They have also been helped by the great developments in basic sciences like molecular biology, neurophysiology and cellular electrophysiology.
KeywordsSodium Channel General Anaesthetic Volatile Anaesthetic Anaesthetic Action Squid Giant Axon
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 2.Kandel ER, Schwartz JH, Jessel TM (1991) Principles of Neural Science, 3rd edn. Elsevier New York 267–269Google Scholar
- 3.Richards CD (1980) The mechanisms of general anaesthesia. In: Norman J, Whitwam JG (eds) Topical Reviews in Anaesthesia. John Wright and Sons Ltd Bristol, pp 1–84Google Scholar
- 9.Haydon DA, Urban BW (1981) The action of hydrocarbons and carbon tetrachloride on the sodium current of the squid giant axon. J Physiol 338:435–450Google Scholar
- 20.Lai FA, Erickson HF, Rousseau E et al (1987) Purification and reconstruction of the calcium release channel from skeletal muscle. Nature 331:315–319Google Scholar
- 31.Horton RW (1989) Amino acid neurotransmitters. In: Webster RA, Jordan CC (eds) Neurotransmitters, drugs and disease. Blackwell Scientific Publications Oxford, pp 165–181Google Scholar
- 32.Bowery NG, Knott C, Moratalla R et al (1990) GABAB receptors and their heterogeneicity. Adv Biochem Psychoph 46:127–139Google Scholar
- 33.Bormann J (1988) Patch-clamp analysis of GABA and glycine gated chloride channels. Adv Biochem Psychoph 45:47–60Google Scholar
- 36.Mc Donald RL, Twyman RE, Rogers CJ et al (1988) Pentobarbital regulation of the kinetic properties of GABA receptor chloride channels. Adv Biochem Psychoph 45:61–72Google Scholar
- 41.Hill-Venning C, Peters JA, Lambert JJ (1993) The interaction of steroids with inhibitory and excitatory amino acid receptors. Clin Neuropharmacol 15 [Suppl 11:683A-684AGoogle Scholar