The Ether Dome

Atop the oldest building of the Massachusetts General Hospital, the Bulfinch Building, is a large dome in which the first use of ether as an anesthetical tool for surgery took place on October 16, 1846.

The inventor of the method was the dentist William T.G. Morton and the first surgeon to experiment it was John Collins Warren. "On the historic day, Morton anesthetized the patient using a glass globe inhalator of his own design and advised Warren, 'Doctor, your patient is ready'. Warren then removed a large tumor under the patient's jaw (the operation only took three minutes, such speed being a requisite for a surgeon in the pre-anesthesia days). When it was clear that the patient felt no pain, Warren turned to the spectators in the surgical amphiteater and intoned, 'Gentlemen, this is no humbug' "1.

That historical day has been recently reconstructed in the beautiful painting hanging on the central wall of the theatre: "Ether Day 1846" by Warren and Lucia Prosperi (2001).

  • Photos by Flavio Keller (November 2009)

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