Copy of Liston’s operating table

Made:
1901-1920 in United Kingdom
maker:
Unknown

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Copy of operating table used by Liston for first operation under anaesthesia, in England

This is a copy of the operating table used by Robert Liston (1794-1847). He was a surgeon famous for his skill and speed. He performed the first operation under anaesthesia in Britain on 21 December 1846. The operation lasted 25 seconds. He amputated a leg from chauffeur Frederick Churchill and after the surgery, Churchill reported he was unaware the operation had taken place.

The anaesthetic used was ether, which was imported from America. Ether had been used in Europe as a recreational drug, but not as a painkiller. Liston nicknamed it the “Yankee dodge” and admitted it had "the most perfect and satisfactory results". Ether had been tried in America, first by a dentist and then by surgeons. However, it could cause vomiting and lung problems. It was soon replaced by chloroform. The original table is owned by the Anaesthesia Association of Great Britain and Ireland.

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Details

Category:
Surgery
Object Number:
A602132
type:
operating table
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • surgical equipment

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