"A Yankee Dodge"
On this date in 1846, surgeon Robert Liston used general anesthetic to remove a man's leg at University College Hospital in London. The operation marked the first time that anesthesia was used in Europe during surgery. Renowned as a surgeon who could amputate a leg in less than three minutes, Liston remarked before commencing, "We are going to try a Yankee dodge today, gentlemen, for making men insensible." After the operation, Dr. Liston commented, "This Yankee dodge, gentlemen, beats mesmerism hollow." (Several months earlier, U.S. surgeons had begun using anesthetic during surgery — thus his reference to a "Yankee dodge.") Liston also referred here to the common practice of using hypnosis, or mesmerism, as it was then called, to dull a patients senses during surgery before anesthetics were widely used. A deeply hypnotized patient could often lie still, avoiding much of the pain associated with surgery.
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