‘The Archive Hour’ - Joint Meeting with the MSA
Dr John Chambers, Professor Jennifer Hunter, Dr David Gray
The meeting was opened by Dr. John Chambers who, after asking for apologies and the minutes of the last meeting to be read, handed over to the new President, Professor Jennifer Hunter. Prof. Hunter introduced herself and remembered the first LSA meeting that she had attended 35 years ago almost to the day. Prof. Hunter then paid tribute and thanked Dr John Chambers for the very long standing commitment that he had given to the society firstly as secretary for 18 years and then as President for the last 2 years. She then introduced the topic and handed over to Dr David Gray.
Dr Gray reminisced about his days growing up in the late forties and early fifties and his Sunday visits to the University department with his father to see the dogs used for research into muscle relaxants, something he reflected would never happen today. He also spoke about the basic monitoring of ‘finger on pulse’ that was used by anaesthetists 40 years ago. He hoped that the outcome of the meeting would be to get into motion a committee that would archive and preserve all the artefacts from past practice including the films to be shown tonight.
Dr Gray introduced the first film made by Wellcome, which documented the origin and effects of curare. It introduced the drug and it’s effects on an isolated rat diaphragm. It then went onto show the effects of 15mgs of d-tubocurarine on an awake volunteer. At 2 minutes, he could not open his eyes and at 5 minutes his breathing was very shallow and his abdomen was very soft. After 20-30 minutes, he was able to stand with assistance (without the use of neostigmine). The next section showed the use of curare in ECT. To the gasps of the audience, a patient was given ECT without any kind of anaesthesia with the subsequent fit. The same patient was then given ECT with Thiopentone and curare which reduced the severity of the fits. Finally, the clinical use of curare was demonstrated for abdominal surgery. The patient was anaesthetised with Thiopentone and maintained with N2O/O2. 2mgs/14lbs of d-tubocurarine was given and surgery performed. Neostigmine was not used to reverse the neuromuscular block and it was thought by several members of the audience that this dated the film to the late forties/early fifties.
The second film demonstrated the use of curare for both bronchoscopy and laparotomy. The third film which was identified as having been made in Liverpool and showed the use of curare in a patient being cooled to have a porto-caval anastomosis. It featured Prof Cecil Gray and Dr Jackson Rees with the patient being cooled to 31.5oC. There were then a number of still photos of members of the anaesthetic training course over the years.
The vote of thanks was given by Dr Janice Fazackerley and the meeting ended at 20.30.