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doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e31829e4001
Anesthesiology Reflections from The Wood Library-Museum

De Jarnette’s Optic Chromatic System of Anesthesia

Bause, George S. M.D., M.P.H.

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Conceived (1926), marketed (1928), withdrawn (1931), and remarketed (1939), the “Optic Chromatic System of Anesthesia” was invented by Major Bertrand De Jarnette (1899–1992). An engineer, osteopathic physician, and chiropractor, he wrote that “each thalami” [sic] of the brain has large masses of sensory fibers [that] pass through.” De Jarnette assumed that a “slow movement is never associated with red, while a fast stimuli [sic] is never associated with blue.” By “the addition of red” color to “blue and deep violet” lenses, De Jarnette produced goggles (right) that he “designed for BLOODLESS SURGERY and not orthopedic work.” For advertising purposes, the shipping box (left) depicts goggles with one lens blue, the other one red. By illuminating goggled patients with a 75 W white light that he first switched on-and-off at a 2:1 ratio and then followed with continuous white light, De Jarnette aimed to lessen pain from chiropractic manipulations involving the “abdomen and pelvis” but not the extremities. As for others’ doubts, he noted that “science is never without scoffers.” In 1940 De Jarnette filed a U.S. Patent application for his anesthetic goggles. It was declined. (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc.)

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