Tomography: Celebrating the 48th Anniversary of the First Computed Scan



The first clinical computed tomography was performed at Atkinson Morley Hospital in London.

The scan was conducted on a patient with a suspected frontal lobe tumor using a prototype machine – the EMI Mark I – constructed by Godfrey Hounsfield and his team at the Central Research Laboratories of EMI in East London.

Thanks to this study, the patient’s diagnosis was confirmed and she was successfully operated on. According to the surgeon, “the tumor looked exactly like in the image”.

After studying electronics and radar, initially in the British Royal Air Force during World War II and then at Faraday House Electrical College, he began working at EMI in 1951. Initially in the development of radar and guidance systems for weapons.

During a vacation, he had the idea of reconstructing the three-dimensional image of a box from a series of “slices” of the object.

Although the initial idea of a technology that could obtain images of the brain through X-rays was from American neurologist and psychiatrist William Oldendorf, who even patented the design of a machine in 1963.


The independent work of Hounsfield and South African physicist Allan MacLeod Cormack.

Resulted in the first computed tomography equipment. 

They worked on mathematical models that allowed the combination of multiple X-ray images.

They never worked together, but they both received the Nobel Prize for this invention in 1979.

In addition, Hounsfield was knighted in 1981 and received multiple other awards.

James Ambrose was a radiologist at Atkinson Morley Hospital, one of the UK’s leading surgical centers.

He was the first to recognize the true potential of computed tomography and helped Hounsfield integrate clinical and technical aspects, as well as interpreting the results of the early studies.

The first CT scanner had a matrix of 80 x 80 with a spatial resolution of 0.5 cm and required the use of a water bag to stabilize and normalize the image.

Each image took 4 minutes to obtain and an additional 7 minutes to reconstruct.

Thanks to the contributions of all these people, a CT scan of the head, like the one performed on October 1st, 1971, can now be obtained in less than a second, with the images available for immediate interpretation by a specialist.

Computed tomography is undoubtedly one of the 20th century’s inventions that have had the greatest impact on medicine, and its development continues to surprise us today.

The Evolution of Tomography: From the First CT Scan to the Future of Medical Imaging

The invention of computed tomography has revolutionized the field of medical imaging and diagnosis. The first CT scan, performed in 1971, opened up new avenues of exploration and discovery in medical research and patient care. Today, tomography continues to play a crucial role in detecting and diagnosing various diseases and conditions with greater accuracy and precision than ever before.

With ongoing advancements in technology and techniques, the future of tomography looks bright, and we can expect even more remarkable breakthroughs in the years to come. Visit to learn more about the latest innovations in tomography and how they can benefit your healthcare needs.

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