Good muscular relaxation is one of the requirements for efficient abdominal surgery, and in order to obtain this relaxation surgeons and anesthetists have sometimes used anesthetic drugs and methods which are toxic or hazardous. The introduction of curare into clinical medicine has made it possible for us to obtain complete muscular relaxation at any time during anesthesia with nontoxic controllable anesthetic agents. After more than two years of careful clinical observation I have come to the conclusion that curare is a safe drug to use in combination with certain anesthetic agents, provided it is administered under properly controlled conditions.
The story of the transformation of this South American Indian arrow poison into an anesthetist's tool may be told briefly as follows: Curare has been known to science since 1595, when Hakluyt referred to it in his description of Sir Walter Raleigh's voyage up the Orinoco. In 1840 Claude Bernard,1
GRIFFITH HR. CURARE IN ANESTHESIA. JAMA. 1945;127(11):642–644. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860110022006
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