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During an expedition to climb Everest in 1933, expedition doctor Raymond Greene administered an open-drop chloroform anaesthetic to a Tibetan patient at an altitude of more than 14,000 feet. The patient's subsequent apparent cardiopulmonary arrest has long been attributed to the effects of altitude on anaesthetic delivery. However, anaesthetics can be safely administered at a wide variety of altitudes by adequately trained and experienced anaesthetists. The problems may have arisen from an inadequate depth of anaesthesia consequent to decreased chloroform vaporisation in a cold environment, Greene's concern about potential depression of ventilation and the contemporary lack of a precise approach to assessing depth of anaesthesia.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





662 - 670


Altitude, Anesthesia, Dental, Anesthesia, Inhalation, Anesthetics, Inhalation, Chloroform, Expeditions, History, 20th Century, Humans, Mountaineering