Is chloroform still used to knock people out?

Wednesday 22nd July 2009
Submitted by Len Fisher
Mischa Blunt, by email

Chloroform is no longer used as an anaesthetic for several reasons, the most important of which is the relatively high risk of complications, including possible heart failure. One major problem is the very small margin of error between stage-three anaesthesia (patient physically incapable and feeling no pain) and stage-five anaesthesia (paralysis of the chest muscles, often leading to death). It can also take up to five minutes for a skilled anaesthetist to bring a patient to stage three. Chloroform was gradually replaced in the first half of the 20th century by the safer (although highly inflammable) ether, which is still used as an inexpensive anaesthetic today in some developing nations. The use of both chloroform and ether in Western nations effectively disappeared with the discovery of safer alternatives such as halothane and desflurane.

What causes waves?
previous qanda Article
Who invented the boomerang?
next qanda Article
Q&A Tabs

Phlegm is the mucous secretion of the respiratory passages. The cilia cells that line these passages are continually driving the phlegm upward to the throat, where it triggers the swallow reflex...

Lobsters and other shellfish have harmful bacteria naturally present in their flesh. Once the lobster is dead, these bacteria can rapidly multiply and release toxins that may not be destroyed by...

Humans looked essentially the same as they do today 10,000 years ago, with minor differences in height and build
due to differences in diet and lifestyle. But in the next 10 millennia, we...

Astronomer Fred Hoyle was the first to point out that if you could drive a car upwards at 95km/h (60mph), it would only take about an hour to get into space. To get to the Moon would take a little...

Yes, vehicles create a region of relatively low-pressure air behind them, and it is indeed possible to reduce fuel consumption by getting into this ‘slip-stream’. According to research...

All female mammals have a clitoris, the sole purpose of which is to react to sexual stimulation, and presumably this stimulation has evolved to be pleasurable for most species. But establishing...

To create a sound, we have to set matter - whether it's a gas like air, a liquid or even a solid material - in regular motion, creating a wave of specific frequencies, which we hear as a sound of...

Mirrors don’t reverse left and right either – that’s just our interpretation of what happens. Your reflection in the mirror is actually reversed front to back – if you have...

Discovered by an American student named Gary Flandro in the mid-1960s, the slingshot manoeuvre usually involves spacecraft briefly 'coat-tailing' a planet orbiting the Sun, extracting some of the...

The ice disappears because the wind blows away water molecules that have evaporated or 'sublimed' from the ice, so the ice slowly shrinks in size. The molecules that escape are those with the...