Advertisement

Thunberg's Barospirator, a Fully Encasing Predecessor of the Iron Lung

  • Christine S. Haddad
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author at: Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit St, Boston, MA 02114. Tel.: +1 617 726 3030.
    Affiliations
    Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Harvard Medical School at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Jingping Wang
    Affiliations
    Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Harvard Medical School at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Theodore A. Alston
    Affiliations
    Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Harvard Medical School at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
    Search for articles by this author
Published:August 30, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janh.2019.08.001

      Highlights

      • The Thunberg barospirator immediately preceded the Drinker iron lung.
      • Barospirators encased patients and cycled pressure but lacked neck ports for heads.
      • It cued Enghoff to study dead space, airway resistance, and apneic oxygenation.
      • There were no chest excursions in modified barospirators.
      • The barospirator stressed tympanic membranes.

      Abstract

      Used as a ventilator for assisting victims of polio, the barospirator was described by Swedish physician-scientist Torsten Thunberg in 1924. An immediate predecessor of the iron lung of Philip Drinker, the barospirator fully encased the entire body. Cyclic air-pressure changes within the chamber achieved ventilation during equilibrations of intrapulmonary and ambient pressures. Pulmonary medicine innovator Alvan Leroy Barach used a modified barospirator for lung rest as a treatment of tuberculosis in the 1940s. Adverse effects included damage to patients' tympanic membranes. Despite its limited clinical success, the barospirator was successfully used by one of Drinker's competitors, John H. Emerson, to invalidate Drinker's US patent filings.

      Keywords

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to Journal of Anesthesia History
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • Drinker P.
        • McKhann III, C.F.
        The use of a new apparatus for the prolonged administration of artificial respiration. I. A fatal case of poliomyelitis.
        JAMA. 1929; 92: 1658-1660
        • Thunberg T.
        Der Barospirator, ein neuer apparat für künstliche Atmung [The barospirator, a new apparatus for artificial respiration].
        Skandinavisches Archiv für Physiologie. 1926; 48: 80-94
        • Der Barospirator E.H.
        Untersuchungen über seine Wirkungsweise mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der pneumographischen Methodik [The barospirator. Studies on its mode of action with special consideration of the pneumographic methodology].
        Acta Physiol. 1927; 52: 1-168
        • Petrén K.
        • Sjövall E.
        Eine Studie über die tödliche akute Form der Poliomyelitis [A study on the deadly acute form of poliomyelitis].
        Acta Med Scand. 1926; 64: 260-291https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0954-6820.1926.tb18135.x
        • Nunn J.F.
        • Holmdahl M.H.
        • et al.
        Acta Anaesthesiol Scand Suppl. 1990; 94: 24-26
        • Fritsch P.W.
        Experience in the treatment by the barospirator.
        Acta Medica Scand. 1932; 78: 100-125
        • Schwaber J.R.
        • Mead J.
        Use of a modified Thunberg barospirator to determine airway resistance in man.
        J Appl Physiol. 1968; 25: 328-332https://doi.org/10.1152/jappl.1968.25.3.328
        • Barach A.L.
        Immobilization of both lungs produced by the equalizing pressure chamber with results of treatment in pulmonary tuberculosis.
        Ann Intern Med. 1947; 26: 687-703
        • Bause G.S.
        Emerson respirator or “iron lung”.
        Anesthesiology. 2009; 110: 812https://doi.org/10.1097/01.anes.0000348448.45464.e2