During his time at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Magill generally used a mixture of gas, oxygen and ether. In an article from 1910, he mentions that patients hated the smell of ether, so much so that a little ‘accidentally spilled in a ward is quite sufficient to put most of the inmates off their dinner’ and that ‘many men being retching immediately they enter the anaesthetic room’. To counter this, tinctures of lavender and bitter orange were put on the facemask and around the room, in an attempt to disguise the smell.
To deliver this mixture of anaesthetic gases, Magill developed a series of apparatus and worked on improving them over ten years.
The first example, from 1921, is a blow-over apparatus and contains a mercury manometer to measure the pressure. It has a heating chamber to warm the ether, with outer and inner cylinders, the space between them forming a closed air chamber into which the ether is forced by a pump from its bottle. Air enters the device through the lower part of the chamber and carries the vaporised ether from the inner chamber to the patient.
This modification of Magill’s 1921 design contains a second ether bottle and a water-sight flowmeter, with ether drop feed dome-shaped for better vision.
Magill had refined his design again by 1932. This apparatus included two dry bobbin flowmeters to measures the anaesthetic gases. These lead to a chloroform bottle and a vertical tube into which liquid ether can be dropped. The gases pass to a warming chamber with safety valve and manometer mounted over a warm water container and then to the patient through a tube.
This device is similar to the 1932 model in that gases pass through a chloroform bottle and there is a vertical dropper tube for ether. It also contains a flowmeter and warming chamber with manometer that delivers the gases to the patient.