George Kellie (1770-1829) was a Scottish surgeon.
George Kellie’s work, that ultimately led to the Monro-Kellie doctrine, began after he was asked to examine the bodies of two people who died in a storm in Leith, near Edinburgh on the morning of the 4th of November 1821. Kellie noted that the veins in the meninges and surface of the brains of the two unfortunate souls were congested and the associated arteries were relatively bloodless, while the brain was otherwise normal.
- Born 23 July 1770 Leith, Scotland.
- 1786 Apprentice surgeon to James Arrott (1760–1818)
- 1786–1788 University of Edinburgh medical studies, where he first studied under Alexander Monro secundus , who he would later collaborate with and eventually be eponomously bonded.
- 1790 – 1800 Royal Navy surgeon. During his 10 years of service he is known to have served aboard HMS Champion, Expedition, Sphynx, Iris, Leopard, Romney and Ardent.
- 1801 Physician at Valencienne, where english prisoners of the Napoleonic war were held.
- 1802 Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
- 1803 MD, University of Edinburgh. Thesis ‘de Electricitate animale’,
- 1805 Married Anne Wight, with whom he had 2 children.
- 1823 Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
- 1827 President of the Edinburgh Medico-Chirurgical Society
- Died 28 September 1829, suddenly, whilst returning from visiting a patient.
Monro-Kellie doctrine (1783, 1824)
The sum of volumes of brain, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and intracerebral blood is constant. An increase in one should cause a reciprocal decrease in either one or both of the remaining two.
George Kellie also forayed into other areas of science and medicine. During his time in the Royal Navy he sent many letters to his Father many of which were published on a variety of topics both medical and anatomical.
In one of his letters he reports to his father on the anatomy of the shark, commenting in great detail on the intestinal tract or ‘primae viae’ as it was then described.
On dissecting the shark, the primae viae appeared to me extremely curious and a striking deviation from the plans of nature.Kellie 1796
George Kellie lived at a time where venereal disease was rife, particularly amongst sailers who George Kellie lived with. In a letter again to his Father, he detailed his treatment for syphillitic ulcers which consisted of application of nitric acid to the areas. He reported some success in reducing the size or completely eradicating ulcers.
The ulcer is now nearly filled up with florid granulations, and the healing process commencing. Belly open, but not loose. Sweats during the night. Pulse 80. Continue acid.Kellie 1797
Complicating research on George Kellie includes wrong dates of birth (1758–1779); alternate spelling as Kellie or Kelly; and confusion with his father George Kelly (1742–1805) – also a surgeon in Leith.
- Kellie G. Some observations on the anatomy of the shark. Annals of Medicine 1796;1:395
- Kellie G. Effects of the Nitrous acid in the cure of Syphillis. Annals of Medicine 1797;5:254
- Kellie G. Observations on the medical effects of compression by tourniquet. Annals of Medicine 1797;2:127
- Kellie G. An account of the effects of compression by the tourniquet in stopping the cold fits of intermittents. Edinburgh Medical Commentaries 1794;9:271-83
- Kellie G. Case of spacelated hernia, with observations 1806:307
- Kellie G. On Death from Cold and on Congestions of the Brain. An account of the appearances observed in the dissection of two of three individuals presumed to have perished in the storm of the 3rd, and whose bodies were discovered in the vicinity of Leith on the morning of the 4th, November 1821: with some reflections on the pathology of the brain. Transactions of the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Edinburgh 1824;1:84-169 [Monro-Kellie doctrine]
Thanks must go to David Crowe, direct relative (Great grandson^4) of George Kellie for allowing us to use the portrait of George Kellie, which has been passed down his family. We must also thank David for his research into George Kellie’s life’s work and military career.
- Macintyre I. A hotbed of medical innovation: George Kellie (1770-1829), his colleagues at Leith and the Monro-Kellie doctrine. J Med Biogr. 2014 May;22(2):93-100
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