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CT at 50. The scanner that changed radiology (and medicine) forever 22 Apr 2021

It seems astonishing that it’s 50 years since the first clinical CT scan was performed. The first CT scan took place in 1971 at Atkinson Morley’s Hospital in South London. The scanner was formally announced by its inventor Godfrey Hounsfield at the 32nd Annual Congress of the British Institute of Radiology which was held at Imperial College in April 1972. In 1977 James Bull from the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases in London’s Queen Square exclaimed that “The result of HOUNSFIELD’S discovery has been to transform investigative medicine,” and there can be few who have not benefited from the scanner.


CT brochure signed by Godfrey Hounsfield


Dr Adrian Thomas entered medical school in 1972, and as a student went to see the EMI head scanner at the National Hospital in action. Adrian met Godfrey Hounsfield on many occasions, and was a co-author with three of Godfrey’s colleagues in writing his biography. CT continued to develop and in the 1980s, when CT was looking as though it would be replaced by MRI, Willi Kalender and colleagues developed spiral scanning which opened up many new applications. The impact of the scanner has been incalculable, and the fascinating story will be revealed.


Ref: Bates S, Beckmann E, Thomas AMK, Waltham R. 2012. Godfrey Hounsfield: Intuitive Genius of CT. London, The British Institute of Radiology.


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Duration:58 mins


Speaker info

Professor Adrian Thomas

Professor Thomas was a medical student at University College London. He was taught medical history by Edwin Clarke, Bill Bynum and Jonathan Miller. In the mid-1980s he was a founding member of what is now the British Society for the History of Radiology. In 1995 he organised the radiology history exhibition for the Röntgen Centenary Congress and edited his first book on radiology history. He has published extensively on radiology history and has actively promoted radiology history throughout his career. He is currently the Chairman of International Society for the History of Radiology. Professor Thomas believes it is important that radiology is represented in the wider medical history community and to that end lectures on radiology history in the Diploma of the History of Medicine of the Society Apothecaries (DHMSA). He is the immediate past-president of British Society for the History of Medicine, and the UK national representative to the International Society for History of Medicine.