The Pioneers

Brian Arthur Sellick (1918-1996)

 Brian Sellick was born at Dorking at the end of the Great War. He worked initially at the Middlesex hospital in London and joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve  during the WW2. After the war he returned to service at the Middlesex Hospital.

He was one of the early anaesthetists for cardiac surgery  and was responsible for introducing the hypothermic anaesthesia for cardiac surgery.

While working at Middlesex Hospital, London, developed a method of applying cricoid pressure  the induction of anaesthesia so as to prevent aspiration He demonstrated the efficacy of the manoeuvre using a cadaver.


The stomach was filled with fluid and the cadaver was then placed in the Trendelenburg position. With cricoid pressure, regurgitation of fluid into the pharynx could be prevented.

There is also a “reverse Sellick” manoeuvre, used as an aid to passing tubes or probes into the oesophagus.

Over the years the manoeuvre has been reassesed and modifications recommended, the work done by the likes of Vanner and Duggan has relinquisehed the need for applying the high pressure recomended by Sellick (44n) down to 30 newtons.

Brian Sellick has been described by his contempories as:

"that sort of a chap who was full of good ideas"

Sellick spent his entire career at the Middlesex Hospital, where he was a consultant anaesthetist when he died in 1996, aged 77. 318




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The History of Surgery and Anaesthesia was created as a free resource to educate Students or indeed anyone wishing to understand the beginings of surgery and Anaesthesia.

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