Jean Athanase Sicard

Born 1872
Died 1929

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French physician and radiologist, born June 23, 1872, Marseille; died January 28, 1929, Paris.

Biography of Jean Athanase Sicard

Jean Athananase Sicard was born and educated in Marseille and began his medical study in his native city, but completed it in Paris, where he undertook serodiagnostic research studies in immunology with Georges-Fernand-Isidore Widal (1862-1929). As a student he worked closely with men like Henri-Alexandre Danlos (1844-1912), Charles Emile Troisier (1844-1919), Édouard Brissaud (1852-1909) and Fulgence Raymond (1844-1910), of whom he was most influenced and helped by Brissaud, who guided him toward neurology. He became an externe in 1894, interne 1895, M.D. in 1899.

Sicard became chef de clinique in 1901, médecin des hôpitaux in 1903 and agrégé in 1907. In 1910 he was made chef de service at the Hôpital Necker, and in 1923 was appointed professor of internal pathology at the Paris faculty. During World War I he directed the neurological centre of the 15th region. He was dubbed "The healer of pain" following his work on the mechanisms of pain and therapeutic strategies he evolved there from.

Already while a student Sicard had become familiar with serodiagnostic methods of investigations. He was very interested in diagnostic and therapeutic techniques involving direct injections. He introduced the injection of sclerosing solutions for varicose veins and alcohol injections for the relief of trigeminal neuralgia.

With his student Jacques Forestier (1890-1978) Sicard introduced the use of radio-opaque iodised oil (lipide). The use of this injection intro the cerebrospinal fluid was a brilliant advance in diagnostic and localisation techniques for intraspinal neoplasms. He recognised its possibilities in the use of other situations such as sinus tracts and urethral disorders, bronchography and even the demonstration of intra-arterial thromboses. He was also one of the first to become interested in the possibilities of pneumo-encephalography.

After a dinner that he hosted and in which he had been unusually effervescent he developed angina pectoris and suggested the injection of the sympathetic ganglion with Novocain. He died before this could be undertaken.

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