Der dänische Anästhesist Björn Ibsen : ein Pionier der Langzeitbeatmung über die oberen Luftwege

  • The Danish anaesthesiologist Björn Ibsen should be placed among the pioneers of the development of long term ventilation by the upper airways (in this publication I have only briefly mentioned his other contributions, in particular the development of Intensive care medicine). Ibsen learned the basics of anaesthesia in the USA (1949/50). Returning to Denmark he worked as independent anaesthesiologist. In 1952, together with Mogens Björneboe, he treated newborn child who suffered from Tetanus. The treatment consisted of barbiturates and curare, in an attempt to suppress the muscular cramps of the child. The child was ventilated with manual positive pressure during the treatment. The child died but this attempt of treatment proved to be an important step in the development of long term ventilation by the upper airways. The core of this work is Ibsen’s introduction of the new treatment for treating poliomyelitis patients with respiratory insufficiency. In 1952, a severe poliomyelitis epidemic hit Copenhagen. At the time the normal treatment of poliomyelitis patients with respiratory failure was passive negative pressure ventilation. At the hospital treating the poliomyelitis patients in Copenhagen there were by far not enough respirators to treat all the severely ill patients. As several patients died from respiratory failure the epidemiologist Lassen was lead to try out a new and untested treatment, and contacted Ibsen. Because I have been able to find the records of the patient, it has now been possible to describe exactly what happened on the 27. August 1952, as Ibsen demonstrated his new treatment on a 12-year old girl. Ibsen intended to ventilate the girl by a tracheotomy, with manual positive pressure from an oxygen filled bag (he had read about his method in an American paper from 1950. here the method was being used as supplement to the negative pressure ventilation from the Iron Lung). Ventilating the patient, however, was only possible after Ibsen had anaesthetised her with barbiturate. The girl survived. As a direct consequence the treatment of the poliomyelitis patients with respiratory problems was changed to follow Ibsen’s directions. Numerous helpers would within days ventilate until 75 patients until they recovered (or died). I do not know for how long the longest ventilation-period was, but I presume it was several weeks. After the epidemic Ibsen found time to develop his method. In 1953 he treated a child with tetanus with anaesthetic drugs and curare, and had it ventilated by a tracheotomy. This positive pressure ventilation by the upper airways of an unconscious patient lasted 17 days. This time the patient survived. It was only later in his life that Ibsen received international recognition for his work (directly after the poliomyelitis epidemic it was Lassen who took the glory). He remained a modest man, something I have been able to verify my self when I interviewed him shortly before his death. He died the 7th of August 2007.

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Author:Louise Reisner-Sénélar
Referee:Udo BenzenhöferGND
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2009/12/11
Year of first Publication:2009
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2009/11/25
Release Date:2009/12/11
Institutes:Medizin / Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht