Society of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Medicine of Northern Greece 
Delphon 106, 546 43 Thessaloniki,GREECE, tel. & fax (31)865537 

Fotis Kanakoudis, Department of Anaesthesia, THEAGENIO hospital
Nikos Balamoutsos, Intensive Care Unit, THEAGENIO hospital

This year (1996) 150 years are completed since the first successful administration of anaesthesia for an operation, which was performed on October 16, 1846 at the Massachussets General Hospital. Anaesthesia was achieved with inhalation of ether vapours administered by William TG Morton, a dentist. The patients was a young printer who had a congenital venous malformation at the neck. John Collins Warren was the surgeon who deftly ligated the venous malformation. Characteristic was the surgeon’s remark to the audience: "Gentlemen, this is no humbug".

This was the first official, public and successful anaesthesia administration, but not its discovery. Around 1540 Paracelsus, a Swiss alchemist and physician prepared the "sweet oil of vitriol", a substance earlier prepared by Valerius Cordus and named "Ether" by Frobenius.

As it happens often with various discoveries, it takes years or even centuries before the usefulness be established. On 1847 John Snow an English physician published the first text on Anaesthesiology titled "The inhalation of the vapour of Ether". In 88 pages he contained ether production, its administration for induction and maintenance of anaesthesia, recovery from anaesthesia and case reports operated under anaesthesia, its complications and how to avoid them.

In 1912 the "American Association of Anesthetists" was founded. In 1914 the American Journal of Surgery began the publication of a Quarterly Supplement of Anesthesia. In 1922 appeared the "Current Researches in Anaesthesia and Analgesia" the first journal devoted solely to anaesthesia. This publication continues uninterrupted until this time with the recent title "Anaesthesia and Analgesia".

In Greece anaesthesia administration all these years was performed by non-educated nurses and in better situations anaesthesia was administered by physicians in training in other specialties. In early 1950’s come to Greece the first physicians trained in anaesthesia in Europe or the United States.

Anaesthesiology as a specialty was recognised in 1953.

In 1956 twenty one greek anaesthesiologists founded the Greek Society of Anaesthesiology.

The first textbook for anaesthesia was published in 1961 entitled "Anaesthesiology, General Principles", completed in 1979 with the second volume "Anaesthesiology in Clinical Practice".

In 1967 appeared the first greek journal for anaesthesiology "Greek Anaesthesiology" and its publication continues up to now.

In 1973 the first chair in anaesthesiology was established at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and the late Spyros Makris was elected as the first professor.

During all this period anaesthesiologists in this country besides the administration of general and regional anaesthesia for the performance of painless operations were occupied also with Intensive and Emergency Medicine and the relief of Chronic Pain.

During the last 25 years anaesthetic management of patients has been dramatically improved as a result of advances in haemodynamic monitoring, discovery and synthesis of new pharmacological agents, and the improvement of our knowledge and understanding of the pathophysiological principles of various organ dysfunction.

As a result of the improvement of the knowledge and experience acquired by anaesthesiologists in their everyday practice in supporting the respiratory and circulatory systems, the specialty of anaesthesiology became a basic specialty in the manpower in other arenas such as Intensive Care Units and Emergency Rooms.

Thessaloniki, 20 March 1996
Fotis Kanakoudis
Nikos Balamoutsos


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This page has been constructed by Fotis Kanakoudis 
and has been updated in 5 April 1996