CT inventor Hounsfield dies at 84

September 1, 2004

Sir Godfrey N. Hounsfield, who won the 1979 Nobel Prize in Medicine for inventing computed axial tomography, died Aug. 12. He was 84. Hounsfield began work at EMI in Middlesex, U.K., in 1951 and retired in 1986. He conceived the idea for a CAT scanner in

Sir Godfrey N. Hounsfield, who won the 1979 Nobel Prize in Medicine for inventing computed axial tomography, died Aug. 12. He was 84. Hounsfield began work at EMI in Middlesex, U.K., in 1951 and retired in 1986. He conceived the idea for a CAT scanner in 1967. Early prototypes took nine days to scan an object. Processing the data took another 21 hours. By 1972, he had built a machine that produced detailed cross-sectional images of the brain in less than five minutes. Introducing Hounsfield at the Nobel presentations, Prof. Torgny Greitz of the Karolinska Medico-Chirurgical Institute, which chooses the recipients of the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine, said the first clinical results in the spring of 1972 changed the course of diagnostic medicine.

"Up to that time, ordinary x-ray examinations of the head had shown the skull bones, but the brain had remained a gray, undifferentiated fog. Now, suddenly, the fog had cleared," he said.