Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Radiological Diagnosis 40 years on: The Evolution of CT Imaging


GE Healthcare’s Bob Senzig. Chief Engineer for GE’s global CT group.


CT is an example of imaging innovation being at the cutting edge. Pictured above is GE Healthcare’s Discovery CT750 HD

On October 1, 1971, computed tomography (CT) imaging produced the first scan at the Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom. The image, performed on a cerebral cyst patient, proved it was possible to produce non superimposed images of an object slice.

Godfrey N. Hounsfield’s development of CT is still as relevant 40 years on as the technique has evolved to become one of the most essential methods of radiological diagnosis. Its ability to provide non-superimposed, cross-sectional body images that are able to highlight contrast differences clearer than X-ray images is its main advantage.

GE Healthcare’s Bob Senzig has been a witness to the milestones CT has achieved throughout his 31 years at the organization. In 2001 he was named Chief Engineer for GE’s global CT group.

“The first CT scanners used to scan extremely slowly. Now CT scanners scan a lot faster. The image quality has made leaps and bounds over the years with higher resolution and clarity,” he recalled.

“CT scanners have evolved to image the heart —one of the most difficult organs to scan—as a routine procedure.”

Advancements in speed, slice count, and image clarity have benefited cardiac imaging the most. These scanners now produce higher resolution images that allow physicians to diagnose patients and carry out medical procedures with greater confidence.

It is this ability of CT technology to constantly adapt and evolve to ever-changing needs that has allowed it to be applied in other fields. Nowadays it is not uncommon for CT to be used for dental CT scans, scans that are focused on extremities, industrial inspection scans, or baggage scanning at the airport.

The CT scanner uses X-rays to make digital images of objects in 3D. “CT imaging has been used to ‘virtually dissect’ specimens such as Egyptian mummies without damaging them. The images allow scientists to find out the age of the mummified remains, check for signs of disease and examine the internal structures of the body,” said Senzig.

CT’s ability to evolve and adapt indicates that it is a well versed technology to address current challenges posed by recent Healthcare-related Laws; the global recession; radiation dose management; and an incredible growth in healthcare data in which clinical imaging has been highlighted as a contributor.

“One way that we can deal with all that data is to optimize the way it is reviewed and presented. Network speed also ensures that multiple scans can be quickly brought up for review.”

“I think we’re also going to see more of an automated analysis, intelligence and assistance in the understanding of CT images to help reduce the amount of data needed to be analyzed by clinicians.”

Today, CT is an example of imaging innovation being at the cutting edge, where we are now seeing high-end scanners offering up to 320 slices, dual-source and dual-energy x-ray sources and iterative reconstruction techniques such as 3D visualization that have proven popular by providing additional clinical insights.

“What we’ve been able to do so effectively at GE Healthcare is to line up the technological capabilities and user needs,” said Senzig. “I think this has helped us to be a lot more impactful in the market by not being a company driven solely by technology, but rather a company whose technology is being driven by clinical needs.”

* Trademark of General Electric Company.


Today, high-end scanners offer up to 320 slices, dual-source and dual-energy x-ray sources and iterative reconstruction techniques such as 3D visualization.