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""Cyanosis in the early history of anaesthesia,""

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(1994)History of Anaesthesia Society, Proceedings 16 (1994): 25-33.

Posted with permission of the author.

The print quality of the PDF accurately reflects the original available on the HAS web site; it is light but readable.


"By a simple change of nomenclature in the 1830s, when Snow was a student, cyanosis as we understand it today, became a new concept. Its predecessor, lividity, was a fearsome condition, generally terminal. Growing understanding of the physiology of cyanosis, and experience of managing it in relation to anaesthesia, dispelled those fears. Putting it another way, familiarity bred contempt, so that when nitrous oxide was reintroduced in the 1860s, although there were further expressions of alarm about the the cyanosis that inevitably came with it, notably from Clover and Benjamin Ward Richardson, these were not sufficient to prevent cyanosis from becoming, for many years, a tolerated concomitant of general anaesthesia" (32).

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