Kirchhoff Mask

WLMD ID: akwq
In the technique of open-drop anesthesia, liquid anesthetic was sprinkled on a cloth which covered the patient’s nose and mouth. Stretching the cloth over a wire frame provided a larger surface for evaporation of the liquid. The open-drop mask seen here was introduced in 1886 by the German surgeon, Dr. Ernst Kirchhoff (b. 1859). It was one of many modifications of the Esmarch Mask. Like Esmarch’s design, it has a frame of four struts, and was sold in a set, together with a chloroform drop bottle. It differed from the Esmarch in having a trough or “gutter” to collect any chloroform that dripped from the cloth. It can also be folded, to make it more compact. Four years later, the Schimmelbusch Mask was introduced. That too can be folded, and has a trough to keep excess liquid from irritating the patient’s skin. But the trough of the little-known Kirchhoff mask is almost perfectly round, while the teardrop shape of the famous Schimmelbusch Mask conforms more closely to the human face.

Catalog Record: Kirchhoff Mask Kirchhoff Mask

Access Key: akwq

Accession No.: 1969-12-01-1 A-C

Title: [ Kirchhoff mask.]

Author: Kirchhoff, E. (Ernst), born 1859.

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Chloroformmaske der Kirchhoff.

Publisher: [Place of manufacture not indicated] : [manufacturer not indicated], [between 1886 and 1910?].

Physical Description: 1 anesthesia kit : metal, glass, textiles, cork ; 10 x 45 x 24 cm.

Subject: Masks, Anesthesia – wire frame.
Subject: Anesthesia, Inhalation – instrumentation.
Subject: Chloroform – administration & dosage.

Web Link:

Note Type: General
Notes: The early year (1886) in the date range for the possible year of manufacture is based on the year that Kirchhoff introduced his mask in a short article published in Illustrierte Monatsschrift der ärztlichen Polytechnik. The end date is an estimate based on the lack of references to the mask after 1908. The date range could change if documentation indicates the range should be corrected.

Note Type: General
Notes: The title is based on the common name for the object.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Dumont FL. Handbuch der allgemeinen und lokalen Anaesthesie für Ärzte und Studierende. Berlin: Urban & Schwarzenberg; 1903:70. Accessed September 21, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Ferguson RH. Open Ether. New York City: Department of Anaesthetics, E. R. Squibb & Sons; 1915:3-5. [Describes open drop methods.]

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Kirchhoff E. Chloroformmaske mit Rinne sur Verhütung von Hautverbrennungen. Illustrirte Monatsschrift der ärztlichen Polytechnik. December 1, 1886;12: 284. [A copy was very kindly provided to the WLM by Dr. Michael Goerig.]

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Miscellaneous. In: Wood CA, Andrews AH, Head GP, eds. The Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat. Chicago; The Year Book Publishers; 1908:343. The Practical Medicine Series. Vol. 3. Accessed September 21, 2014. [Described open drop methods.]

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Pagel JL. Kirchhoff, Ernst. Biographisches Lexikon, Hervorragender Arzte des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. Berlin und Wien: Urban & Schwarzenberg; 1901:857. Accessed August 20, 2014.
Note Type: Citation
Notes: de Ruyter G, Kirchhoff E. Compendium der speziellen Chirurgie: für Studierende und Ärzte. Berlin: Verlag von S. Karger; 1892.

Note Type: Physical Description
Notes: One anesthesia kit that includes a metal wire framed mask, a cotton fabric cover, a chloroform bottle with cork, a strap[?], and a canvas bag; All are in good condition except for the strap with has become brittle with age; The measurements provided in the physical description field are one of the possible dimensions of the space taken up by the kit when all pieces are displayed; The largest portion of the oronasal mask, for the mouth and lower nose, has a circular shape; The frame is shaped so that along most of the rim, up until the nasal area, there is a channel, or trough, to catch excess chloroform; A wire loop shaped like the rim supports bars that hold gauze away from the patient’s face; From a patient’s point of reference, four thin bars attached to the loop form the distal frame of the mask; These cross and curve away from the face to make room for the nose and mouth; Two bars runs laterally, and the other two run horizontally; The frame and the wire loop are hinged together above the nasal area; A small handle is located just above the hinge; A swiveling lever, located at the most lower part of the frame, holds the wire loop in place when closed; The mask alone measures approximately 19.5 x 11.1 4.4 cm; There are no markings on the mask; A cover for the mask, made of white cotton fabric with a string sewn into the rim so that it may be tightened, when laid out flat measures approximately 18.5 x 15.5 cm; The chloroform bottle is made of amber colored glass and has a rounded sides and narrow neck; On the front of the bottle the word, “Chloroform” is etched with horizontal graduation lines indicating “Gr”; There are 20 lines: 10 shorter and 10 longer; Five of the longer lines are numbered on each end; From top to bottom, left and right, the numbered pairs are: 0 and 100, 20 and 80, 40 and 60, 60 and 40, 80 and 20; The bottle is rounded in the front and flat in the back, like bottles that accompany Esmarch masks; With the cork in the top, it measures approximately 10 x 7.2 x 3.8 cm; What may have been a strap unfolds to measure approximately 38 cm in length and 3.6 cm in height when laid flat; There are some markings on the inside of the strap but they are very faded and difficult to read; One of the works appears to be “ADHESIVE”; The canvas bag in which all of the kit can fit into is rust colored and when laid flat measures approximately 21 x 15 cm; The word “Betäubungsgerät” is printed on the bag in white lettering; The mask, bottle, and strap have the original accession number painted onto them, “1384”.

Note Type: Reproduction
Notes: Photographed by Mr. Steve Donisch, September 17, 2013; Only the mask and bottle where photographed.

Note Type: Acquisition
Notes: Donated to the WLM by The Anesthesia Associates of Muskegon, Michigan.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Fotografie, Porträt, Gustav de Ruyter. Wissenschaftliche Sammlungen an der Humboldt-Universität website. Accessed September 21, 2014.

Note Type: Exhibition
Notes: Selected for the WLM website.