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May 5, 1951


Author Affiliations


From the Departments of Anesthesiology and Urology, Wesley Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University Medical School.

JAMA. 1951;146(1):21-23. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670010025006

Alcohol in its various forms has played a part in medical treatment since medieval times. In the past the reports of the therapeutic application of alcohol have been so colored by empiricism, poorly controlled observations and even facetiousness that its true value has been confused and unappreciated.

The use of alcoholic fumes for anesthetic purposes is recorded as early as 1513.1 The first mention of alcohol administered intravenously was in a Latin dissertation by Stirius in 1668.2 In 1823 Magendie used intravenous injection of dilute alcohol containing camphor in treating cholera.2

In 1920 Behan reported the intravenous use of alcohol postoperatively to relieve pain and produce relaxing sleep.3 In 1929 Marin wrote his doctoral thesis on the subject "Intravenous Anesthesia with Ethyl Alcohol."4 The popularity of this method, however, was curtailed because users reported such complications as hemolysis and agglutination of erythrocytes, sclerosis of the

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