Ultrasound show

Glasgow’s University’s Hunterian Museum will be showcasing the first ultrasound scanner, developed 50 years ago.

The scanner will form part of the ‘A Healing Passion: Medicine in Glasgow Past and Present’ exhibition.

Professor Ian Donald and Dr John McVicar, obstetricians at the Glasgow Western Infirmary, and Tom Brown, an engineer with Glasgow-based Kelvin Hughes, were pioneers in the development and clinical application of ultrasound technology.

On 8 June 1958 they published a scientific paper entitled ‘Investigation of abdominal masses by pulsed ultrasound’ in the medical journal, The Lancet.

The paper described the results obtained by Donald, McVicar and Brown after scanning 100 patients with the early prototype.

They developed the scanner from industrial metal flaw detector technology, bits of Meccano and a hospital bed table.

Brown said: ‘It was a case of scrounging for parts wherever I could.’

The technology was initially used in gynecology to detect and diagnose the nature of growths in the abdomen but now ultrasound scanning is a routine part of pre-natal care.

It is used in most other branches of medicine and recent advances in technology have enabled real-time three-dimensional scanning to develop.

The BBC will screen a programme to celebrate 60 years of the National Health Service towards the end of June. It will feature McVicar and Brown talking about their work.

The exhibition, courtesy of a loan from the British Medical Ultrasound Society, will be open from 9.30am until 5pm, Monday to Saturday, and admission is free.