Intended for healthcare professionals


Fiona Denison: obstetrician, academic, and innovator

BMJ 2022; 376 doi: (Published 27 January 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;376:o237
  1. Penny Warren
  1. London, UK
  1. warrenpenny788{at}

Edinburgh obstetrician Fiona Denison was once concerned to hear that it could be difficult to see a baby’s head crowning during a waterbirth. The midwife had to crouch down and peer into the pool with a mirror in one hand and a torch in the other. Denison, who has died aged 51, thought there had to be a better way and reached out to engineers at nearby Heriot-Watt University. Together they designed the multi-award winning “EASI birth mirror,” or as Denison modestly referred to it, her “mirror on a stick.”

Denison enjoyed synergistic partnerships with engineers throughout her career, relishing opportunities to share knowledge, solve practical matters, and make childbirth safer. With colleagues at Heriot-Watt and elsewhere she worked on projects to use magnetic resonance imaging scanners to monitor fetal health non-invasively; developed fetal biosensors to detect lactate (a sign of distress); and an epidural needle with ultrasound at the tip (“the needle that can see”) to guide anaesthetists giving an epidural to obese women in labour. Indeed, in 2018 when …

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