Bjørn Aage Ibsen

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Bjørn Aage Ibsen
Born (1915-08-30)August 30, 1915
Copenhagen, Denmark
Died August 7, 2007(2007-08-07) (aged 91)
Citizenship Denmark
Alma mater University of Copenhagen
Known for inventor of intensive-care unit
Scientific career
Fields Intensive-care medicine, Anesthesia

Bjørn Aage Ibsen (August 30, 1915 – August 7, 2007) was a Danish anesthetist and founder of intensive-care medicine.[1] He graduated in 1940 from medical school at the University of Copenhagen and trained in anesthesiology from 1949 to 1950 at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. He became involved in the 1952 poliomyelitis outbreak in Denmark, where 2722 patients developed the illness in a 6-month period[2] with 316 suffering respiratory or airway paralysis. Treatment had involved the use of the few negative pressure ventilators available, but these devices, while helpful, were limited and did not protect against aspiration of secretions. After detecting high levels of CO2 in blood samples and inside a little boy's lung,[3] Ibsen changed management directly. He instituted protracted positive pressure ventilation by means of intubation into the trachea, and enlisting 200 medical students to manually pump oxygen and air into the patients lungs. In this fashion, mortality declined from 90% to around 25%. Patients were managed in 3 special 35 bed areas, which aided charting and other management.

In 1953, Ibsen set up what became the world's first Medical/Surgical ICU in a converted student nurse classroom in Kommunehospitalet (The Municipal Hospital) in Copenhagen, and provided one of the first accounts of the management of tetanus with muscle relaxants and controlled ventilation. In 1954 Ibsen was elected Head of the Department of Anaesthesiology at that institution. He jointly authored the first known account of ICU management principles in Nordisk Medicin, September 18, 1958: ‘Arbejdet på en Anæsthesiologisk Observationsafdeling’ (‘The Work in an Anaesthesiologic Observation Unit’) with Tone Dahl Kvittingen from Norway.[4]


  1. ^ Stephen Pincock (2007). Elsevier, ed. "Bjørn Aage Ibsen". The Lancet. 370 (9598): 1538. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61650-X. 
  2. ^ "Louise Reisner-Sénélar (2009) The Danish anaesthesiologist Björn Ibsen a pioneer of long-term ventilation on the upper airways". 
  3. ^ IBSEN B (January 1954). "Ibsen, B., The Anaesthetist's Viewpoint on the Treatment of Respiratory Complications in Poliomyelitis during the Epidemics in Copenhagen, 1952. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine 1953; 47: P. 72-74". Proc. R. Soc. Med. 47 (1): 72–4. PMC 1918820Freely accessible. PMID 13134176. 
  4. ^ P. G. Berthelsen; M. Cronqvist (2003). "The first intensive care unit in the world: Copenhagen 1953". Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica. 47 (10): 1190–1195. doi:10.1046/j.1399-6576.2003.00256.x. 

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