"Trilene" is the brand name of the drug trichloroethylene, manufactured by Ayerst Laboratories. The chemical formula for trichloroethylene was discovered in 1863, and it became a popular analgesic in the 1940s and 1950s. It provides a light level of unconsciousness, and wears off quickly. It was recommended for analgesia (pain relief) in minor procedures such as the treatment of burns, stitching of wounds, and biopsies.
The Duke University Inhaler was made specifically to vaporize this liquid agent. Trilene, and the Inhaler, were marketed primarily for use with pediatric patients and women in labor.
Advertisements emphasized that it was non-explosive, and that it caused less nausea than did ether. But these advantages were outweighed by its environmental impact, and in 1977 the FDA banned its use as an anesthetic.
Catalog Record: Trilene
Access Key: aikr
Accession No.: 2010-07-13-1
Title: Trilene [bottle].
Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Ayerst Trilene bottle 300 cc.
Publisher: New York : Ayerst Laboratories Inc, by arrangement with Imperial Chemical
Physical Description: 1 bottle : glass, zinc alloy[?] ; 15.5 x 6.5 dia. cm.
Subject: Anesthetics, Inhalation.
Subject: Drug Packaging.
Note Type: General
Notes: Title from bolded and capitalized lettering on label, with descriptive
Note Type: Physical Description
Notes: Empty, amber colored glass bottle with metal (possibly zinc alloy), screw-on
cap; Cap painted white and marked with “Ayerst” and the registered trademark
symbol; Label with large amount of text, including: [centered at very top,
far left] “300 cc” [far right] “No. 3150” [new line, larger and bolder than
all the other text] “TRILENE” [new line] “Brand of Trichloroethylene (Blue)”
[new line] “A highly purified product for inhalation analgesia.” [new line]
“Ayerst” [new line] “Warning: Do not use in closed circuit with soda lime …”.
Note Type: Reproduction
Notes: Photographed by Mr. William Lyle July 13, 2010.
Note Type: Historical
Notes: In 1977 the use of trichloroethylene as an anesthetic was banned by the FDA.