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Godfrey N. Hounsfield



Sir Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield CBE (28 August 1919 12 August 2004) was an English electrical engineer who shared the 1979 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Allan McLeod Cormack for his part in developing the diagnostic technique of computerized axial tomography (CAT).

His name is immortalised in the Hounsfield scale, a quantitative measure of radiodensity used in evaluating CAT scans. The scale is defined in Hounsfield units (symbol HF), running from air at -1000 HF, through water at 0 HF, and up to bone at +1000 HF.

While on an outing in the country, Hounsfield came up with the idea that one could determine what was inside a box by taking X-ray readings at all angles around the object.

He then set to work constructing a computer that could take input from X-rays at various angles to create an image of the object in "slices". Applying this possibility to the medical field led him to propose what is now known as computerized axial tomography. At the time, Hounsfield was not aware of the work that Cormack had done on the theoretical mathematics for such a device.

The prototype CT scannerHounsfield built the prototype head scanner and tested it first on a preserved human brain, then on a fresh cow brain from a butcher shop, and later on himself. In September 1971, CAT scanning was introduced into medical practice with a successful scan on a cerebral cyst patient at Atkinson Morley's Hospital in Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom. In 1975, Hounsfield built a whole-body scanner.


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