History of the CT scanner

The first CT (computerised tomography) scanner was invented in 1972 by British engineer, Sir Godfrey Hounsfield and South-African physicist, Allan Cormack of Tufts University, Massachusetts. Hounsifeld had been working on the idea for several years at the EMI Central Research Laboratories in Hayes, but the first actual scan was carried out at the Atkinson Morely Hospital in Wimbledon in 1971. The scanner was then introduced to the public in 1972.

Cormack was heavily involved with the introduction of the CT scanner in America, of which the first scanner to be installed was at the Mayo Clinic. Cormack and Hounsfield were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1979.


Initially, the CT scanner was used only as a head scanner, but it was gradually developed and whole body scans became available in 1976. CT scanners became more common during the late 1970’s and by 1980 they were widely available. CT scanners are now used to diagnose a range of different health conditions and diseases, and are available in X-ray departments all over the world.

CT scanners now work much faster than earlier versions, with the first scanner taking days to build an image from the raw data. Scanners today generate millions of different points in less than one second.

Patient comfort has also improved with the advancement of CT scanners, as scans are now much quicker and the unit is more patient-friendly. Patients also have to wait less time for their results, which helps to reduce anxiety and facilitate faster treatment.