A short history of anaesthesia: from unspeakable agony to unlocking consciousness

We expect to feel no pain during surgery or at least to have no memory of the procedure. But it wasn’t always so.

Until the discovery of general anaesthesia in the middle of the 19th century, surgery was performed only as a last and desperate resort. Conscious and without pain relief, it was beset with unimaginable terror, unspeakable agony and considerable risk.

Not surprisingly, few chose to write about their experience in case it