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A brief history of MRI scanners

A brief history of MRI scanners

We recently shared an article about the development of the CT scans, which you can read about here. However MRI machines also came a long way to be used now worldwide as a routine examination. As Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has an interesting history too we dedicate this article to briefly summarize the development of this device which saves millions of lives.

How did it all begin?

The first milestone is connected to Budapest, Hungary where our hospital is located. Nicolas Tesla took a walk in the City Park of Budapest where he finally figured out a long-standing issue that bothered him. He was the first to discover the rotating magnetic fields which he drew into the sand of the park with a stick. This all happened in 1882, and later in 1956 the Tesla name became a unit of measurement of the strength of a magnetic field. For example in our Medicover Hospital we have a 1.5 Tesla MRI scanner.

Later, in 1937 a professor named Isidor Isaac Rabi observed and wrote down the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) phenomenon which he was awarded with a Nobel-prize for.

1952 came when two scientist Felix Bloch and Edward Purcell received a shared Nobel-prize for making a NMR machine where they could observe different material’s structures.

This machine was innovative surely but until the 1970s they couldn’t use it on humans. So when Raymond Damadian in 1971 realized that cancerous tissues are acting different than healthy ones under NMR. Based on this discovery the scientist built the first MRI machine with his own hands, which was able to examine humans. With the help of the MRI they were able to diagnose cancer patients. The first image was a chest MRI in 1977 and the examination lasted 4.5 hours. This is very long time comparing to our current available techniques but it meant a huge difference in modern medicine.

Scanners of our modern age

Hospitals started using MRI machines as a routine examination not so long ago – in the 90s. However back then doctors mostly diagnosed musculoskeletal problems and brain abnormalities.

MRI machines as we know them today started to get popular in the 2000s when full body MRI-s were also available with them. Now we consider MRIs as a routine, easy way to find problems in different organs, tissues and most of the hospitals own one or more of them.

Although the constant development of our world affects medicine – and MRIs too. Even today scientists work to provide even more detailed, stronger machines, so the technique is constantly changing and under development to bring out its best features.

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