In search of the ideal inhalational anesthetic, a French dental professor, Georges Rolland of Bordeaux, developed Somnoforme in 1901. Chemist Alfred Rousseau, also of Bordeaux, then produced it in luminous green bottles labeled with mystical raised letters (center). In the 1860s, the popular A.C.E. mixture had combined the best anesthetic properties of alcohol, chloroform, and ether. Similarly, Somnoforme blended ethyl chloride (60%), methyl chloride (35%), and ethyl bromide (5%) to play up the three agents’ respective strengths—anesthetic maintenance, rapid induction, and postoperative analgesia. When Rolland self-inhaled Somnoforme and reported heightening of his arterial pulse waveform on sphygmograph, hemodynamic stability joined the anesthetic’s list of virtues. In addition, when North American manufacturer E. de Trey & Sons began to distribute the inhalant in gleaming amber (background color) ampules, supreme portability was achieved. The capsules could be broken onto absorbent cotton-wool, and Somnoforme delivered through nasal (left) or full facial (right) inhalers. With the advent of fire risk from electrosurgery and evidence of false advertising, use of flammable Somnoforme slumbered, then lapsed altogether. (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, Schaumburg, Illinois. www.woodlibrarymuseum.org)

In search of the ideal inhalational anesthetic, a French dental professor, Georges Rolland of Bordeaux, developed Somnoforme in 1901. Chemist Alfred Rousseau, also of Bordeaux, then produced it in luminous green bottles labeled with mystical raised letters (center). In the 1860s, the popular A.C.E. mixture had combined the best anesthetic properties of alcohol, chloroform, and ether. Similarly, Somnoforme blended ethyl chloride (60%), methyl chloride (35%), and ethyl bromide (5%) to play up the three agents’ respective strengths—anesthetic maintenance, rapid induction, and postoperative analgesia. When Rolland self-inhaled Somnoforme and reported heightening of his arterial pulse waveform on sphygmograph, hemodynamic stability joined the anesthetic’s list of virtues. In addition, when North American manufacturer E. de Trey & Sons began to distribute the inhalant in gleaming amber (background color) ampules, supreme portability was achieved. The capsules could be broken onto absorbent cotton-wool, and Somnoforme delivered through nasal (left) or full facial (right) inhalers. With the advent of fire risk from electrosurgery and evidence of false advertising, use of flammable Somnoforme slumbered, then lapsed altogether. (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, Schaumburg, Illinois. www.woodlibrarymuseum.org)

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Jane S. Moon, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California.