Over the past centaury medical technology has been evolving at an astonishing rate. New medical conditions and new health problems have been the catalysts for new medical discoveries and no one area of medicine has been more improved than the field of diagnostic medicine.
From the industrial revolutions of various countries to the numerous wars and natural disasters that have occurred throughout recent history, medical technology has benefited each time by the need of society to progress and develop new cures and diagnosis techniques to spot problems in the first instance or before they progress.
X-rays were the first real diagnosis technique to aid medicine when Wilhelm Roentgen discovered them in 1895. After X-rays more advanced forms of diagnosis technique became available to physicians with the development of MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in the 1950’s. This development allowed doctors to look at internal organs for lesions and tumors.
The development of MRI preceded a more intense era of medical technological development that focused more on the process of imaging various parts of the body, such as brain, abdomen etc and using computers as the viewing mechanism.
As cancer became the most common medical condition other diagnostic tools developed to supplement MRI, or complement it, aiding the treatment of this disease. New techniques such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET scans) that look at the chemical functioning of the bodies internal organs and Computed Tomography (CT scans) that allow a more detailed look at the anatomy of the body became more common in medical diagnosis, as the medical imaging revolution progressed.
Although MRI, PET and CT allowed physicians a more detailed look at how the body functions in relation to diseases, such as cancer, there were still some gaps in the technologies.
Image technologies focused mainly on only one aspect of a disease, such as the anatomical structure or the functional change. Although highly beneficial as sources of information to guide physicians in planning treatments these types of individual imaging systems could be more powerful as one unit.
In 1998 the stage was set for a new wave of medical imaging systems when the first prototype PET/CT scanner was given for trial to the University of Pittsburgh. This combined Positron Emission Tomography and Computed Tomography system overcame the faults of the individual systems and gave Doctors a more powerful tool in the fights against cancer, brain disorders and cardiac problems.