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October 1941


Author Affiliations

From the Division of Anesthesia, University of Illinois College of Medicine.

Arch Surg. 1941;43(4):568-572. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1941.01210160029004

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In observing the artificial state of disturbed function known as anesthesia, the anesthetist has almost constant occasion to study respiratory problems, which in other branches of medicine are encountered so infrequently as to prevent familiarity. It therefore seems to be within the anesthetist's province to offer his views on this subject. The term "cessation of respiratory exchange" is used here to refer to the complete interruption of the flow of air into and out of the lungs.

That adequate respiratory exchange is essential to life is an axiom of physiology. The layman has heard that the proof of death is to hold a mirror in front of the nose and mouth and demonstrate the absence of respiratory exchange. Even some doctors regard cessation of respiratory exchange as synonymous with death. A physician, once called to treat a person who had taken an overdose of morphine, arrived to find the patient,

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