Rewind: The brain can now be X-rayed (October, 1954)

This piece featuring in the Civil Service Journal of 1954 shows us how far we have come in medicine, as the first X-ray machine to scan the brain is unveiled to Members. 


A British company has produced what is believed to be the first equipment of it’s kind in the world for use in X-ray examinations of the brain. 

Known as angiography of the brain, this examination is one of the most delicate of X-ray operations. It involved injecting the patient with a solution which is opaque to X-rays, thus rendering visible the brain’s network of arteries in X-ray photographs.

The solution injected is dissipated throughout the brain within a matter of from 5-10 seconds, and speedy and accurately time-controlled. X-ray exposures are then required. Hitherto the timing of the exposure has had to be done either manually or by the use of cinematography, and neither method had proved satisfactory.

The nature of the problem and the need for some sort of new equipment to overcome it become known to the general manager of the English Electric Company’s work at Stafford when he happened to be talking with a member of the staff of the Stafford General Infirmary and with the company’s works doctor. 

It was decided to produce a new type of timer device to solve the problem. The first hospital in the world to have the use of the new apparatus, which must still be regarded as a prototype, is the Stafford General Infirmary. 

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