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Intravenous anaesthesia (part one).

Fletcher, Yvonne.

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Credit: Intravenous anaesthesia (part one). Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

About this work


The opening sequence of scrolling text explains why barbiturates are the preferred form of anaesthesia as they are quickly absorbed into the blood stream. Three barbiturates are referred to and it is the third, Pentothal which is demonstrated in this film. Each section of the film is titled according to the subject shown.The first section is entitled Apparatus. The apparatus for performing anaesthesia is laid out on a table; a male clinician points this out whilst the male narrator explains the significant of each. A male patient is prepared. Success in venepuncture involves a very sharp sterile needle; this is described and shown. The next section is entitled Course of anaesthesia . A female patient, aged 23, is prepared for surgery. Her pre-operative medication is described. The patient has some cotton wool taped to her nose to demonstrate her repressed breathing. As the injection is performed, the difficulty of accurately predicting the dosage is commented upon. The dosage is increased as the patient rouses; then the surgery proceeds. Observation methods are emphasised to ensure adequate anaesthesia. Eyes are not observed as this is only effective in inhalation anaesthesia.The next section is entitled Dangers of Pethothal Anaesthesia . The major difficulty is that the airway may become blocked such as the tongue moves back, blocks the throat and the patient starts to spasm. Different case studies with interventions are shown. Overdoses can be avoided by observing the colour of the patient s skin - a patient who has stopped breathing is shown; he is revived with oxygen. A patient s chart is shown to illustrate the correct dosage of Pentothal this differs greatly depending on the patient s initial blood pressure and general health. If surgery has to proceed even when the maximum dose has been given; then an inhalation method has to be used. There is a clear message that intravenous anaesthesia should not be entered into casually and that there is a requirement to observe the patient at all times. The next section is entitled Indications . Patient records (note full names and ages are clearly evident) are flipped through showing suitable and unsuitable candidates for this form of anaesthesia: no operations on the mouth and throat or where the airway may be obstructed, for example. In cases of severe trauma, the dosage has to be minimised as well.In the final Post-operative section; the commentary extols Pentothal as a delightful drug for the patient. We return to the 23 year old female patient who has woken up. Recovery appears to be swift; a nurse makes her more comfortable.The End RFU


[Place of publication not identified], s.n.], [1944.]

Physical description

1 Digibeta (28:40 mins): sd., b&w.; PAL. 1 VHS (28:40 mins): sd., b&w.; PAL. 1 DVD (28:40 mins): sd., b&w.; PAL.

Copyright note



Conservation and access copies made 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.
Duplicate film item; see also ICI006

Creator/production credits

Directed by Yvonne Fletcher, Photography by A. E. Jeakins. Produced by Realist Film Unit. Made with the co-operation of the Department of Anaesthetics, Westminister Hospital, London.



  • English

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