Inversion in Chloroform Asphyxiation.
Editor Ellingwood's Therapeutist.
Upon reading an article in the last number of THE THERAPEUTIST on the serious results of anesthesia, I recalled the following case: Thirty years ago, I read in a medical journal the account of a method for the restoration of patients overcome by chloroform, which consisted of the physician or attendant taking the man by the feet and with the man's knees flexed over his shoulders, the attendant and the patient back to back, the patient's head downward, effort was made to cause the blood to gravitate in full quantity to the brain, thus stimulating the pneumogastric nerve, inducing a return of the respiration and heart action and restoring the patient to life.
It was but a few days after reading this, when this matter was still in my mind (this was at a time when we knew much less about chloroform anesthesia and its dangers than we do now), that I was called by a dentist to administer chloroform to a lady about thirty years of age, while he should extract some teeth. I administered the chloroform with great care, and the patient took it well at first, but just at the time when I thought her ready for the extraction, her face blanched, the breathing and pulse stopped, and to all appearance she was dead.
Recalling the method I had read of a few days before, we took her immediately from the chair, laid her upon the sofa, well to the bottom, with her feet fastened to that end. We then stood the sofa upon end, thus inverting the patient. The dentist held the sofa and patient in position, and I watched for results, frequently applying to her nostrils the carbonate of ammonium from a bottle. Finally, in less than five minutes, a red spot formed on her left cheek. That was the first sign of returning life. After a few seconds she gasped for breath, and very soon the breathing and pulse returned regularly. We lowered the sofa slowly, but there was no return of the dangerous symptoms. The nausea and vomiting were extreme for two hours. The recovery was very rapid.