New book celebrates 40 years of computerised tomography
18 April 2012
Forty years ago the invention of computerised (axial) tomography transformed medical care across the world. Behind it was a little-known British genius, Sir Godfrey Hounsfield.
Hounsfield and Dr James Ambrose presented the clinical results from the new medical system, the prototype for which had been installed at Atkinson Morley Hospital in London, at the British Institute of Radiology’s annual congress in April 1972. The paper caused a sensation and was reported in the national press the following day.
A computerised tomography (or CT) scan is a series of X-rays taken from different angles and put together to create cross sections that give an accurate picture of the object in question.
After almost a century of flat, one-dimensional X-rays as the conventional method of diagnosis, this new system had a profound effect on the medical imaging world and completely changed the way doctors work, introducing non-invasive diagnosis that heralded modern minimally invasive treatment based on confident diagnosis.
Today every acute hospital has a CT scanner. Hounsfield and Allan Cormack were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1979 for their invention.
Few people know much about the mild-mannered and determined Hounsfield, but a new book sheds light on a British genius who left school with no qualifications, but went on to change the world.
The book, Godfrey Hounsfield: Intuitive Genius of CT, explores his life through stories and recollections of his colleagues, family and friends (available 20 April 2012).
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The original manuscript on the CT system by Godfrey Hounsfield is available here: http://bjr.birjournals.org/content/46/552/1016.short