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Reports of fires and explosions when ether or some other anesthetic vapor is used in the presence of an electric cautery are not infrequent.
A positive test of the explosibility of the atmosphere at the point of contact at the time when the cautery is applied is much to be desired, not only from the point of view of safety but as medicolegal evidence in the event of accident. A simple test to eliminate such danger may readily be performed as follows: An ordinary rubber syringe about 2 inches (5 cm.) in diameter into which the glass tip of an eye dropper has been inserted is sterilized with the surgical instruments to be used. An ordinary alcohol lamp is provided. The surgeon or his assistant expresses the air from the syringe and sucks into it the atmosphere of the operative field at the point at which the cautery is to
PALUEL J. FLAGG. A SIMPLE TEST OF THE EXPLOSIBILITY OF THE ATMOSPHERE OVERLYING THE OPERATIVE FIELD WHERE DIATHERMY OR ACTUAL CAUTERY IS TO BE USED. Arch Otolaryngol. 1937;25(1):83–84. doi:10.1001/archotol.1937.00650010091012