Clinical use of the EMO inhaler.

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Clinical use of the EMO inhaler. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). Source: Wellcome Collection.

About this work


This film is about the EMO (Epstein-Macintosh-Oxford) inhaler and Oxford breathing bellows, both designed in Oxford and used in anaesthetics. The inhaler mixes the anaesthetic agent ether with air. Using a number of pre-operative and surgical case studies, the versatility and flexibility of this equipment is demonstrated. 3 segments.


[Place of publication not identified], s.n.], [1963]

Physical description

1 encoded moving image (16:30 mins) : sound; black and white



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Terms of use

Open with advisory.

Language note


Creator/production credits

Photographed at the Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics, Oxford by the Royal Society of Medicine Film Unit. Sponsored by Longworth Scientific Instrument Co Ltd, Penland (a trade-mark), Pentland Instrument Co Ltd. Directed by Esmond Wilson, Photography by Stephen I. Halliday, Edited by Howard Kennett.


Material from the film collection comprising of 55 items donated by Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics, Oxford, to the Wellcome Trust in 2008. In 1937, Lord Nuffield established a clinical chair of anaesthesia in Oxford amidst some controversy that anaesthesia was even an academic discipline. The collection is a mixture of clinical and educational films made or held by the department to supplement their teaching dating from the late 1930s onwards


Segment 1 The credits roll over shots of Oxford. A voice-over explains the importance of ordinary 'air' as an agent for ventilation over shots of a man asleep and a woman on an artificial respirator. The narrator demonstrates the EMO inhaler which was designed in Oxford. The inhaler works with Oxford inflating bellows, which is briefly shown. The EMO inhaler mixes air with volatile anaesthetic agents (such as ether): the EMO inhaler is shown being prepared with the active agent poured in. A middle-aged woman who requires surgery is shown being anaesthetised: anaesthesia is induced via an injection before the gradual process of achieving adequate anaesthesia via the EMO inhaler is shown. The anaesthetist counts four breaths before increasing the dosage - with full anaesthesia being achieved in 10 minutes. The patient then has an endotrachael tube inserted and this is shown being secured with a bandage. The patient is wheeled away to the operating theatre. A more complex surgical scenario is shown (with more staff around the patient); the advantage of the EMO inhaler is that it can be moved away from the immediate surgical area so that the operation can proceed without the inconvenience of lots of tubing, the requirement to change cylinders and the anaesthetist is then free to monitor the patient. Time start:00:00:00:00 Time end: 00:06:18:00 Length:00:06:18:00
Segment 2 The next case study shows a female patient receiving chloroform as the induction agent; the EMO inhaler has a small vaporizer which permits this and then the patient is seen with anaesthesia fully maintained with ether. The next case study shows an elderly male patient requiring a muscle relaxant and shows the process of induction and maintenance of anaesthesia. Time start: 00:06:18:00 Time end: 00:10:32:00 Length: 00:04:14:00
Segment 3 The next case study features a middle-aged male patient who has also been given a muscle relaxant. An infant is seen very briefly having been anaesthetised with artifical ventilation maintained with small bellows as well as a male patient laying on his front with a valve inserted into his throat (a position which is relatively inaccessible to the anaesthetist in a crowded operating theatre). A number of case studies are shown where patients require deeper anaesthesia and agents which induce repressed respiration; the anaesthetist provides artifical respiration either by an automated pump or manually. The EMO inhaler is shown functioning throughout. The closing sequences show the equipment being packed away into easily portable cases and a man, presumably the anaesthetist, leaving the hosptial, case in hand, and driving off in his car. The objective of this sequence is to emphasis the portability and convenience of the equipment. Time start: 00:10:32:00 Time end: 00:16:30:15 Length: 00:05:58:15


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