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JAMA 100 Years Ago
April 24, 2002


Author Affiliations

JenniferReiling, Assistant Editor

JAMA. 2002;287(16):2042. doi:10.1001/jama.287.16.2042-JJY20010-2-1

Javanese Method of Narcosis.—L. Steiner describes in the Arch. f. Schiffs u. Tropen-Hygiene, v, 12, a method of narcosis which has long been practiced in Java. The hands are placed on the neck of the subject, the fingers meeting at the back, and the carotid artery is briefly compressed with the thumbs, back of and a trifle below the lower jaw. The artery is pressed back toward the spine. Only 5 out of 30 subjects failed to respond to his application of this maneuver. The head falls back and the subject seems to be in a profound slumber, from which he awakes in a few minutes as if suddenly aroused. The effect can not be due to suggestion, as the same maneuver avoiding the arteries, fails to produce any effect. The procedure is called by a Javanese term which signifies "compression of the sleep vessel." The popular name for the carotid artery in Russian, by the way, is also the "sleep artery"; and "carotid" is derived from the Greek karos, sleep. He has never witnessed or heard of any accidents from this method of narcosis which is widely practiced on the island, frequently associated with general massage. The patients do not vomit, and there is no incontinence of urine or feces. He opened an inguinal abscess in one case while the patient was unconscious. He is inclined to advocate this absolutely harmless method of narcosis as worthy of a place in surgery, on account of the rapidity with which it can be accomplished and the rapid awakening. The procedure may also prove effective in combating cephalalgia, vertigo and insomnia.

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