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Anesthesia History, Types, and Usages

What is Anesthesia?
The Ancient History of Anesthesia
The Role of the Arabs in Discovering Anesthesia
The Discovery of Modern Anesthesia
How Does Anesthesia Work?
Types of Anesthesia
Anesthesia in Egypt


What is Anesthesia?
The term anesthesia essentially means without any feelings or sensations. This word was formed from the merge of two Greek words, an, which means without, and aesthesis which means feelings. It is the state when patients lose all their senses or parts of it to avoid severe pain for a certain period during the process of a medical treatment.

All patients around the world would go through the process of anesthesia at least once in a lifetime. The evolution of Anesthesia factually played a vital role in the development of various surgical operations and in the treatment of several diseases.

The Ancient History of Anesthesia
Several ancient civilizations had their own unique endeavors to invent various types of primitive anesthesia. Historical records have asserted the usage of opium in the ancient Sumerian Civilization more than 6000 years ago. The Pharaohs, Greeks, Romans, and Assyrians carried out many other attempts.
Scholars also noted that Babylonians used henbanes for relieving the toothache pain during the 23rd century BC. Other efforts included the usage of acupuncture during the Shang Dynasty in ancient China beginning from the 17th century BC.
The Greeks had a significant role in the invention of various types of anesthesia. The priests at the temple of the Oracle of Delphi, in the period between the 7th and the 4th centuries BC, used to make patients inhale gases that included ethylene, which was utilized afterwards at the beginning of the 20th century in the processes of anesthesia.
Among the most remarkable quests to produce anesthesia include those of the Indians in the 7th century BC, when they used cannabis to reduce the pain of patients after various surgeries. There are also the attempts of the Egyptians and the Assyrians during the 5th and 4th centuries when they used carotid compression to relief pain.

The Role of the Arabs in Discovering Anesthesia
The first to use oral consumption as a mean to treat patients using anesthesia were the Arabs. As early as the 11th century AD, Al Zahrawy, a historical Arabian physician described the process of how he dealt with general anesthesia as an important step of his surgeries.
Around the same period of time, Avicenna, the most famous Arab physicians, used a sponge with certain narcotics and scents that was placed on the nose of a patient during surgeries or other painful operations.
During the period form the 9th till the 13th century AD, blends of various herbs that used to include herbal opium, mandrake, and henbane, were used inside sponges to relief the pains of patients undergoing surgical operations in Andalusia and various regions ruled by the Arabs. Opium was an important material used for anesthesia in the Arabian Peninsula and Asia during the time.

The Discovery of Modern Anesthesia
Many historians consider a British dentist that was called William Morton to be the first to discover modern anesthesia at the beginning of the 19th century. With his businesses going down due to the severe pain caused by many dental treatments and operations, he began thinking of a way to relieve pain.
Morton was able to discover that when patients inhaled a substance called ether, they became unconscious for a certain period of time that is enough to carry out many dental procedures. He began by inhaling ether himself and then tried it on animals and the results were quite impressive.
Morton announced his new discovery to the public on the 16th of October 1846 when he made a patient inhale ether, then the major surgeon of the Massachusetts General Hospital removed a tumor from the jaw of the patient felt no pains or complains to be compared to what used to happen before that date.
Stories about this successful attempt traveled very fast around the world. This triggered shortly afterwards the discovery of chloroform, which didn’t have any of the drawbacks of ether including the bad smell and the negative effects on the throat of patients. However, it remained unnecessary in many surgeries until a truly historic event took place.
John Snow, the father of modern anesthesia as described by many scholars, who used widely used chloroform as part of his work, used it with Queen Victoria when she was giving birth to her child, Prince Leaplod. This event created the publicity and popularity chloroform needed to be spread all over Great Britain and then the whole world afterwards as a vital step in many surgeries and medical operations.

How Does Anesthesia Work?
Anesthesia works by stopping the signals the nerves all around the body send to the brain. This process would prevent the brain from distributing pain and it would enable the mind to forget all what took place during the painful treatment.

Types of Anesthesia
Local anesthesia
This type of anesthesia takes affects only some certain parts of the body of the patient like an arm, parts of the skin, or a parts of a leg. Doctors give local anesthesia through injections, a spray, or some types of skin creams. Local anesthesia keeps the patient awake most of the times or he/she might become unconscious for an exact period until the medical treatment is fully completed. Often used in some minor treatments, patients usually go home on the same day after their medical services are over.
Local anesthesia is usually used in outpatient cases like at the dentist. It has a great effect to kill the pain during the operation and relieve much of the distress after it.

Regional anesthesia
This type of anesthesia numbs a larger part of the body and this is why injected near a group of nerves. A great example of regional anesthesia is the epidural injections that doctors often give to ladies during labor as they reduce the pain of the process of birth giving. In many cases, doctors use a combination of local and regional anesthesia together in many medical operations and various treatments.

General anesthesia
The general anesthesia is when the patient is completely sleep during the medical treatment and doesn’t feel any pain or discomfort. When he becomes conscious afterwards, he remembers nothing of what happened. Doctors give patients this type of anesthesia through an IV, injection, or vapors coming out of a mask to be put on the face of the patient.

Anesthesia in Egypt
A number of Egyptologists affirm that the Pharaohs were the first to use several types of anesthesia. They assert that the complicated mummification process the ancient Egyptian priests excelled at made them aware of many aspects of the human body.
Ancient priests used acupuncture to numb certain parts of the body. They crashed marble stones and mixed it with vinegar. Priests used this blend as a type of anesthesia. In fact, scientists afterwards discovered that the mixture contain carbonic acid that has great effects as an anesthesia.
Today Egypt has some of the most qualified and experienced anesthesiologists in the region to keep up with the development in the field of medical services Egypt has been witnessing during the past two decades.  Those specialists professionalize in offering patients the finest local, regional, and general anesthesia with the most updated tools and equipment.
Anesthesiologists learn all about the patients’ medical history, checks him up, and view all his medical analysis in order to decide upon the best type of anesthesia that is suitable for their cases.
Several medical centers around Egypt are committed to the highest international standards of quality in terms medical equipment and the most skillful and educated medical cadres. World standards of operations’ rooms include that there should be a system to filter the oxygen that reaches a purification percentage of more than 99.98%.
Another important element Egyptian hospitals carefully put into consideration is the utilization of single-use tools and the usage of the most updated and modern anesthesia devices that display all the data of the patient during various operations and medical treatments.
Anesthesia in Egypt has considerably developed over the recent decades, as many other fields of medicine. This was due to the large increase in the levels of health services provided in Egypt. The enhancement in the health sector in general had its impact on anesthesia. Egypt started offering excellent standards of quality and accuracy in various medical operations that require regional or general anesthesia.

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