Wednesday, March 16, 2016

1776: The double chambered bellows of Dr. John Hunter.

Dr. John Hunter helped make surgery a more
advanced form of science, he introduced the
first feeding tube and artificial respiration
used to keep asphyxiated infants alive.  He
is known as the father of artificial respiration.
(4, page 353)
Earlier we learned that Paracelsus experimented with bellows to provide positive pressure breaths through a tracheotomy. His attempts failed, although the idea was later taken up by other physicians, one of whom was Dr. John Hunter in 1776.
Dr.Hunter was a Scottish physician and surgeon who perfected the idea of Paracelsus that bellows could be used to resuscitate patients who stopped breathing. His idea was actually invented to breathe for asphyxiated neonates.

He invented a system of double chambered bellows that he experimented with by giving breaths to dogs. Because two bellows were used, this required two cavities leading to a single nozzle which was inserted into the nostril. One chamber inflated the lungs and the other deflated them. (1, page 67)

Use of the device "flourished" until a report in 1929 showed that "sudden injection" of air from the device could cause injury to the lungs. However, later magazine articles and books indicate the device was used occasionally when necessary, and the nozzle was either inserted into the airway as Hunter recommended, or sometimes to a tracheotomy. (1, page 67)

Dr. Hunter was among the original members of the Royal Humane Society, and his  device was adapted by the Society, and placed along various routes along lakes and rivers so they could be used in emergency situations.  Bellows were also adapted by the Amsterdam Life Saving Society and also placed along Amsterdam's canal.

Due to his invention he is often referred to as the father of artificial respiration. The product was generally referred to by Hunter's Bellows. (2, page 281)(3, page 2)

  1. Price, J.L., "The Evolution of Breathing Machines," (this must have been written in the 1950s or early 1960s because the last reference was to IPPB being used as a respirator) (reference to The Bible, Kings, 4: 34)
  2. Tissler, Paul Louis Alexandre, "Pneumotherapy: Including Aerotherapy and inhalation...," 1903, Philadelphia, Blakiston's sons and Company, page 284,5
  3. Hasan, Ashfaq, "Understanding Mechanical Ventilation: A practical Handbook," 2010, New York, Springer
  4. Garrison, Fielding Hudson, "An introduction to the history of medicine," 1922, Philadelphia, W.B. Saunders Company
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