The first successful demonstration of ether's use as a surgical anesthetic was conducted in 1846. William T.G. Morton, who administered the ether for the removal of a tumor from a patient's jaw, is to the immediate left of the patient.(© Bettmann/CORBIS)
One of the central questions of anesthesia research has been whether all these drugs work in the same manner. Until the last few decades, investigators generally held that, despite chemical differences, the drugs share a mechanism of action.
One long-standing theory was based on the simple observation that the more soluble an anesthetic is in olive oil, the more effective it is.