A proud legacy of education, research and patient care in anesthesia


Dr. Robert Zollinger is appointed as professor of surgery at OSU following five years of service in the United States Army. At the time, anesthesia is administered by medical students, interns and nurses. Dr. Zollinger urges Dr. Charles Doan, Dean of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, to hire a full-time anesthesiologist.

  Dr. Doan, on a visit to the University of Chicago, meets Dr. Jacoby, who is completing his PhD program, and invites him to join OSU as its first professor of anesthesiology. Dr. Jacoby is trained in both Ob/Gyn and anesthesiology. Because both Jacoby and Zollinger had extensive service in the army during World War II, they become lifelong friends and colleagues. Anesthesia is established as a division of the Department of Surgery.
  OSU's Division of Anesthesia develops a cure for the spinal headache, which involves introducing normal saline solution into the epidural space. This technique is found to be much safer than using the so-called "blood patch."
 1953   With Dr. Karl Klaassen of the Department of Surgery, the Division of Anesthesia demonstrates that vagal manipulation and severance is a safe procedure. The division also shows that vagal stimulation in the presence of hypoxia causes cardiac arrhythmias.
 1954   OSU shows in several studies that a needle inserted into the trachea can deliver enough oxygen to sustain life until more definitive steps can be taken, namely endotracheal intubation or tracheotomy.
 1955   OSU describes a new set of signs and designation of depth of anesthesia appropriate for pentothal and other anesthetics. Several studies show that OSU has the lowest anesthesia mortality rate of any hospital in the U.S.
 1957   OSU’s interest in resuscitation and the prevention of death extend beyond the operating room. OSU arranges to have an anesthetist called whenever a patient is in severe respiratory/cardiac difficulty and is in danger of dying anywhere in the hospital. From this effort, the Code Blue system develops, which is adopted worldwide.
  The division invents a novel device for finding metal needles that fall on the floor. The device helps in supply counts in the operating room (OR). The occulocardiac reflex is triggered during ophthalmic surgery by traction on the extra-ocular muscles. A vagal reflex slows or stops the heart. Anesthesia shows that this can be prevented by an extra dose of atropine before the traction.

OSU's Division of Anesthesiology publishes several landmark papers showing the importance of establishing an airway and providing pulmonary ventilation in preventing acute respiratory episodes and possible death.

OSU's Division of Anesthesia demonstrates that a small air embolism can be detected by the change it causes on heart sounds. Rapid intervention stops the additional ingress of air before it becomes serious or fatal. This simple technique involving a stethoscope over the heart has now been replaced by the Doppler monitor. Anesthesia explores the use of sympathetic blocks (stellate ganglion blocks) for the various sympathetic dystrophies. They find it valuable and recommend its use for shoulder-hand syndrome, which may be a sequel of myocardial infarction. Ohio State's Division of Anesthesia is among the first in the country to use autologous blood for transfusion.

OSU develops the world standard anesthesia intervention for patients undergoing electric shock therapy for treatment of severe depression. The technique involves respiratory support, anesthesia and muscle relaxants and proves to dramatically decrease morbidity and mortality.

  Dr. Jacoby leaves OSU as chair of the department and joins Marquette University at the request of Dr. Edwin Ellison, chair of the Department of Surgery. Dr. Hamelberg becomes chair of the OSU Department of Anesthesiology. Under Dr. Hamelberg, research is conducted in the areas of drug incompatibilities, hypersplenism, catecholamine levels, muscle relaxants, gastric emptying, crushed chest injuries, impurities in nitrous oxide, postoperative nausea and vomiting, brachial plexus blocks, treatment of tetanus, treatment of cerebral hypoxia, dilutional hypervolemia, pharmacology of anesthetic agents, EKG changes during anesthesia, aspiration pneumonitis and spinal and epidural anesthesia. By now, the department has 18 attending anesthesiologists, the residency staff has expanded to 25 and the department is training 20 nurse anesthetists each year.

Anesthesia develops a positive identification of pulmonary embolism, a frequent cause of death, that before could only be determined by autopsy. During removal of parotid gland tumors, branches of the facial nerve may be spared if they can be identified. The Department of Anesthesia develops a method for identifying facial nerve branches using nerve stimulator. The method becomes a standard surgical technique.
  OSU develops a technique of endotracheal intubation which can be used even if the larynx cannot be visualized (blind intubation) or if the jaw was ankylosed or wired shut. A teaching film is made to illustrate the technique. As a result of this technique development, no patient at OSU dies because he cannot be intubated, no patient has to have a tracheotomy and no patient has to have his operation cancelled. This technique is developed long before fiberoptic instruments are invented.
 1979   Dr. Hamelberg is succeeded by Dr. John S. McDonald as chair of the department. Engineers in the department develop one of the first computerized integrated anesthesia monitoring systems and deploy the system in the operating room. 
  Anesthesia installs capnography monitors in the operating rooms, making OSU one of the first hospitals to employ respiratory carbon dioxide monitoring interoperatively on a routine basis.
  The system includes physiologic data, monitoring of inhaled gases using shared mass spectrometry and an integrated alarm system. The system is the forerunner of several commercial products.
  Anesthesia conducts three landmark time-motion studies of anesthesiologists in the operating room to determine how their operating room time is spent and how computerized record keeping influences their practice.
  The Arthur G. James Comprehensive Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute opens. The hospital has six operating rooms dedicated to cancer surgery. The department extends its cancer pain management practice to the new hospital.
  Department engineers develop a novel method for measuring myocardial ischemia and reperfusion using myocardial electrical impedance. OSU's Department of Anesthesia, in collaboration with the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, becomes the first group in the world to measure (with FDA approval) myocardial electrical impedance clinically on human subjects and demonstrate its safety and efficacy. The device is patented.
  The vice chair of the department, Dr. Michael Howie, is named interim chair and a search begins to find a new permanent chair.
 1999   Dr. Glenn Gravlee is named chair of the department. OSUWMC purchases Park Medical Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio and creates University Hospital East. The hospital has six operating rooms and becomes the focus of regional anesthesia and orthopedic surgery, as well as pain management. Residents perform their regional anesthesia rotation at University Hospital East.
  The department introduces EEG brain wave/depth of conscious monitoring as a new standard of clinical care in the operating room. The monitors are installed in all operating rooms in the University Hospital facilities.
 2002   Dr. Michael Howie is named chair of the department.
  The Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital opens. The new heart hospital has six high-tech operating rooms dedicated to heart surgery.
 2005   Vice president of the OSU Health System, Dr. Daniel Sedmak, becomes the interim chair of the Department of Anesthesiology. A search begins for a new permanent department chair. Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is introduced for monitoring heart patients in the operating room. Several new anesthesia faculty members, trained and certified in TEE, are recruited who will utilize TEE in the heart rooms and train anesthesia faculty and residents in the new technology.

The department and Helene Kurshan Jacoby establish the Jay J. Jacoby MD, PhD Endowed Chair in Anesthesiology in honor and memory of Dr. Jay Jacoby, founder of the OSU Department of Anesthesiology. The position will support a department chair who is a nationally eminent anesthesiologist, professor of anesthesiology and an outstanding educator whose focus is to support the advancement of medical knowledge in the field through teaching, improved patient care and research.

There are new developments in clinical anesthesia. The Pain Medicine Fellowship receives full accreditation until 2009. The department creates a neuro-anesthesia division. Chronic pain evolves into the OSU Comprehensive Spine Center and now provides a broader team concept in this area of anesthesia care.
  Dr. David A. Zvara returns to OSU and is named the Jay J. Jacoby Professor and Chair in Anesthesiology after serving as professor and section for cardiothoracic anesthesiology in the anesthesiology department at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Dr. Zvara did his residency training at OSU, where he served as chief resident in the department. He brings a strong research and medical education background to the department, having written more than 70 journal articles, abstracts and book chapters and having delivered over 80 invited lectures in the fields of anesthesiology and graduate medical education.

The department establishes the OSU Preoperative Assessment Center (OPAC). The new center will not only improve patient anesthesia care, but promises to also enhance the hospital’s perioperative operation and efficiency.

Neurosurgery and neuro-anesthesia move into the 21st century with the introduction of an intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging system in the operating room. The low-field (0.15 Tesla) will allow surgeons to track their work in tumor resection intraoperatively and promises to improve patient care and hospital efficiency, as well as reduce patient hospital stay and patient costs. The system presents the anesthesiologist with new and exciting challenges. It has given the Department of Anesthesiology several new avenues of research to pursue over the coming years.
 2008   Research continues to flourish in the department. Anesthesia researchers develop and publish the first animal model of chronic ischemic heart failure (CHF). Their most important contribution is the first ever published study of the use of partial left ventricular assist device support in the CHF model. Researchers apply functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study brain activation caused by pain and in response to anesthesia. The department has nearly $4 million in basic research grants, including several National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants. In addition, the department has numerous ongoing industry-sponsored clinical trials. Researchers publish 23 peer-reviewed journal articles and 21 conference abstracts.
Ronald L. Harter, MD is named interim chair of the department.
 2009   Ronald L. Harter, MD is officially named the Jay J. Jacoby Professor and Chair in the Department of Anesthesiology.