From Dental to Mental Institutions: Did Hypoxic Anesthetics by “Dental Associations” Add More Brain-Injured Patients to America's Insane Asylums?

  • Matthew L. Edwards
    Resident Physician, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, 401 Quarry Road, Stanford, CA, 94305-5717, USA
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  • George S. Bause
    Corresponding author at: 5247 Wilson Mills Rd, No. 282, Cleveland, OH, 44143-3016.
    Clinical Associate Professor, Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, 11100 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106-6031, USA

    Clinical Associate Professor, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, 2124 Cornell Rd, Cleveland, OH 44106-3804, USA

    Honorary Curator and Laureate of the History of Anesthesia, Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, American Society of Anesthesiologists, 1061 American Ln, Schaumburg, IL 60173-4973, USA
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      • In 1863, GQ Colton founded his Colton Dental Association for dental extractions.
      • His franchisees and their imitators administered hypoxic nitrous-oxide anesthetics.
      • Hours to days after this hypoxia, some patients developed altered mental status.
      • Some brain-damaged patients were subsequently admitted to insane or lunatic asylums.


      Though most patients survived the hypoxic challenge, some patients likely suffered asphyxial brain damage from GQ Colton's nitrous-oxide techniques and were admitted to insane or lunatic asylums.
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        The 2016 Lewis H. Wright Memorial Lecture: America's doctor anaesthetists (1862-1936)—turning a tide of asphyxiating waves.
        J Anesth Hist. 2016; 3: 12-18
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