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February 22, 1965

Things as They Are

Author Affiliations

Prairie Grove, Ark

Los Angeles

JAMA. 1965;191(8):681. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080080071035

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To the Editor:—  I enjoyed "Things as They Are" (JAMA190:997 [Dec 14] 1964) and I write not to decry modern anesthesia but to keep part of the record straight.It is not correct that "literally nothing was known about anesthesia" before World War II. Most of today's neurological, thyroid, lung, heart, abdominal, gynecologic, obstetric, and orthopedic operations were done with skillful anesthesia decades before World War II. In fact, Souttar's very successful mitral-valve operation on May 16, 1925, trailed all the other types of operative procedures named.We of 40 years ago had theories and assumptions regarding anesthesia founded on the shifting sands of physiology and pharmacology. The absolutes unknown then are unknown now, but new answers to the same old unanswerable questions have come and gone. A very important and often neglected study in any profession is its history.Things as they were:Yesterday's surgery was more

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