Professor Philip Raikes Bromage

Personal Details


28/10/1920 - 07/06/2013

Place of birth: London

Nationality: British

Dr, then Professor from 1970

CRN: 494748

Education and qualifications

General education

The Benedictine Ampleforth College, Yorkshire which emphasised spirituality, spartan discipline and rigour; St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School

Primary medical qualification(s)

MRCS LRCP 1943; MB BS, 1944

Initial Fellowship and type

FFARCS by Election

Year of Fellowship


Other qualification(s)

DA(RCP&S), 1947

Professional life and career

Postgraduate career

Rejected for service in the armed forces in 1944 due to a chronic mastoid infection, Bromage joined the Merchant Navy as a doctor on HMS Salween, a troop ship, and served in the Burma landings during the last year of WW2. He was then appointed House Physician and Surgeon at Southend Municipal Hospital, coming under the tutelage of Dr J Alfred Lee and being enthused by anaesthesia. In 1948, after further training at St Thomas’s, where he learnt how to perform epidural anaesthetics from Dr Massey Dawkins, he joined an anaesthetic practice in Portsmouth, Isle of Wight, and West Sussex (Chichester, Midhurst and Worthing). With Dr Lee’s encouragement he used the experience he had gained to write his first book ‘Spinal Epidural Analgesia’ while he was working predominantly in Chichester. This led to an invitation to lecture at a number of medical centres in North America in 1955, and a subsequent invitation to join the faculty at McGill University in Montreal as Assistant Professor of Anaesthesia under Dr Harold Griffith. There he established an obstetric epidural service, became a renowned ambassador for the technique and, in 1970, succeeded Dr Griffith as Chairman of the Department at The Royal Victoria Hospital.

In 1977 he moved to Duke University, North Carolina and in 1981 became Chairman at The Department of Anesthesiology in Denver Colorado. Subsequently he worked for three years on an exchange program as Professor at The King Khaled University Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and then for the last three years of his career he was Scientist-in-Residence at The Medical Center of Delaware and Professor at Thomas Jefferson University Medical School.


Professional interests and activities

Bromage was one of the great proponents and practitioners of regional anaesthesia during the third quarter of the 20th century, his lectures being models of linguistic and scientific clarity. As well as the ‘Spinal Epidural Analgesia’ text noted above he published an outstanding single author book ‘Epidural Analgesia’ in 1970, contributed 25 chapters to other books and published over 90 original papers based on his research. He considered epidural block “a necessary skill for every Consultant Anesthesiologist, especially if engaged in obstetric practice or the management of chronic pain”, and every researcher in regional anaesthesia is familiar with the ‘Bromage score’ for evaluating lower limb motor block. He received many awards during his career including The Canadian Anaesthetists’ Society Gold Medal (1995), The Carl Koller Medal of The European Society of Regional Anaesthesia (1989), The Gaston Labat Award of The American Society of Regional Anesthesia (1984) and an Honorary Doctorate from The University of Louvain, Belgium. In 1979 he received the first Gold Medal of the Obstetric Anaesthetists Association of Great Britain. He retained an honorary professorship in The Department of Anesthesia at McGill University, Montreal where an annual research day is named after him.

Other biographical information

In 1945 he married Brenda Fernyhough with whom he had three children. When working in West Sussex he lived in Southbourne and writes of happy memories of the late forties, when he and Brian Sandiford had a hectic practice extending from Worthing to Midhurst, Chichester, Portsmouth and The Isle of Wight. They covered a lot of mileage with a portable Boyle’s machine and spare cylinders in the boots of their cars for nursing home and even domiciliary surgery. Brian Sandiford’s daughter, who now lives in Maine, tells of how as a child she enjoyed going to the Bromage home and riding their donkey.

In 1969 he married Margaret Jean (Meg) Parkinson, and after she had an accident in the mid 1970’s they decided that Montreal was too cold and moved to the USA. In December 1976 I (the author) sat the three day USA FLEX exam with Dr Bromage, and despite having to relearn all his basic medical sciences at the age of 56 he passed. In his retirement he continued to work and write from his home in his beloved Northern Vermont. He passed away peacefully in Williston, Vermont on Friday June 7th 2013. He was predeceased by Brenda, Meg, and daughter Jennifer. He is survived by his son Richard, daughter Susan, and four grandchildren: Julian, Maria, James and Laura.

Author and Sources

Author: Dr Robert Julian Palmer.

Sources and any other comments: [1] Obituary. Burlington Free Press, 10/06/2013 [2] Obituary. International Journal of Obstetric Anaesthesia 2013; 22: 272 [3] Annual Research Day Handout, McGill University, Montreal, Canada [4] Personal communications.