11th Symposium of the International Society for the History of Radiology


Prof. Dr. Andrzej Urbanik, Head of the Chair and Department of Radiology Medical College of the Jagiellonian University, Past President of the Polish Medical Society of Radiology, invites the members of ISHRAD and of course all of you interested in the history of radiology, to participate in the 11th Symposium of ISHRAD.

This event takes place in Krakow, Poland from Friday 7 to Saturday 8 October 2022.


Report of ‘History of Radiology’ session Liverpool UKIO 4 July 2022

by Dr Arpan K Banerjee Chair ISHRAD ( International Society for the History of Radiology), Trustee and Past Chair British Society for the History of Radiology


Following the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021 when the history sessions of the UKIO had to be held virtually it was a delight this year to have an annual radiology imaging and oncology congress in erson and this was held in the ACC , Liverpool. The radiology history session organised by the BSHR was held on the Monday 4 July and consisted of four talks with the session chaired by Elizabeth Beckman.

The first talk was ‘A history of PET and PET / CT’ delivered by Dr Arpan K Banerjee. In this talk the contributions of Paul Dirac ( the Cambridge mathematician who predicted the existence of the positron) and Carl Anderson were described in addition to Ernest Lawrence and his work on the cyclotron. The early pioneers in America and their contributions to the development of this new technique were presented. In addition the British developments involving the introduction of clinical PET services at St Thomas’s , Hammersmith and Mount Vernon hospitals reminded us of the early visionary enthusiasts who championed this relatively new imaging modality.

The next talk was given by Dr Edwin Aird a retired physicist and was titled ‘LH Gray (physicist and radiobiologist ) his life, laboratory and legacy.’ Gray was born in 1905 and studied physics and maths at Cambridge. He took a job at Mount Vernon hospital on the recommendation of Chadwick ( discoverer of the neutron) where he had ample time to pursue his research interests which included the interaction of radiation with matter. In 1946 he moved to the Hammersmith hospital which at the time was conducting a lot o research on neutron therapy. Sadly he fell out with the director and in 1953 had to move to Mount Vernon hospital where he started his own laboratory. Sadly he died young in 1965. Today he is of course remembered for the unit of absorbed radiation dose which is named after him. He also did much pioneering work on hypoxia and tumours.

The next talk was delivered by Dr Michael Jackson the current chair of the BSHR whose presentation was titled ‘Exploring the equilateral Why are medical images rectangular?’ Examples of early art and pinhole photography served to illustrate the argument. We were taken through examples of art where this is indeed the case and of course medical images which have been presented in a rectangular form. Quotes from John Berger the art critic on perspective serve to remind us that perspective is in the eye of the beholder who can of course be in only one place at a time whereas it was thought that the universe was arranged for God who was of course omnipresent hence the contradictions in the perception of perspective. The presentation was illustrated with rectangular écorche anatomical drawings as well as examples of radiological images including CT scans and radiographs. Comparisons were also made with cinematic projections which ranged from early films using 4/3 ratios to later widescreen presentations in CinemaScope and VistaVision. Today we are used to rectangular screens on high definition television sets, laptops, and smart telephones. Finally even data presentations and PowerPoint presentation slides have become rectangular !

The final presentation was delivered by Prof Adrian Thomas titled ‘Neuroradiology and philology as presented in the Doctor is sick of 1960 by Anthony Burgess’. Burgess is probably best remembered today for his dystopian society novel ‘A Clockwork Orange’ made into a controversial film by Stanley Kubrick in 1971. The Doctor is Sick is a semi autobiographical novel and the central character undergoes neuroradiological investigation for a possible brain tumour following a collapse. The neurology doctor in the book Dr Railton is based on Sir Roger Bannister ( neurologist famous for running the mile in under four minutes in 1954). The author Anthony Burgess provides an interesting description of the relationship of the patient and the images obtained of the brain by angiography made more complex as the central character is a linguist who describes his experience brilliantly in the written form. The relationships between the themes of imaging and reality and their perception by patients remain as relevant today as in 1960 when the book was written.

The British Society for the History of Radiology stand organised by Adrian Thomas generated a lot of interest and will hopefully result in new members joining the society.




We have added a new topic of the history of radiological protection.  It is under the Technology tab.




The first clinical CT scan took place on 1 October 1971. We have brought together a number of videos and documents to mark this momentous anniversary. To see them click here





Report of the BSHR  Annual lecture 2022

 by Dr Arpan K Banerjee Chair Int Soc Hist Rad (ISHRAD) Trustee BSHR

Due to Covid restrictions  this year’s annual lecture was delivered virtually on  February 7, 2022 by Dr Michael Jackson, a consultant paediatric radiologist at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, Edinburgh, and incoming chair of the BSHR. The Title of the lecture was  ‘The Art of Radiology: Celebrating 50 years of CT and 50,000 years of projection-based images’. For a full report of the lecture by Dr Arpan K Banerjee (Chair Int Soc Hist Rad (ISHRAD) Trustee BSHR) Click here

Dr Jackson has had a lifelong interest in art and how art and its images interface with images produced in medical imaging and has recently published a book on this theme.

The talk opened with a dramatic set of images of hands one of which had been subject to radiation damage a salutary reminder that radiology  was initially a dangerous enterprise. It was interesting to be shown one of the earliest cave  paintings of a hand which had remarkably similar appearances to an X-ray of a hand  produced thousands of years later by Röntgen.

A physiognotype was illustrated, a device which enabled the production of 3-D photosculptures using some of the principles of the CT scanner. This instrument of course  became obsolete as with the development of the CT scan in 1971 by Hounsfield and subsequent technological improvements   3-D reconstructions  have became commonplace in the last 20 years.

A picture of early Egyptian art reminded us that painters painted with different perspectives. In Egyptian pictures  the head and the feet had a lateral  profile whereas the chest and eyes are seen from the frontal view.

Artists and their paintings were used to illustrate aspects of perspective which of course is also  important in radiological analysis of images. In the chest x-ray the projection of the image determines the size of the structures portrayed. Historically artists were greatly
interested in perspective and illustrations of Durer’s work  were used to demonstrate this.

Early Renaissance anatomy illustrations from Vesalius and other artists displayed the human body using the technique of ecorche to illustrate the different layers of the body and many examples of the human musculature were displayed in this format including several of the Christian saint and martyr St Sebastian with the piercing arrows. Examples of Saint Bartholomew being flayed were also used to illustrate this. Today of course the CT scan with MIP and volume rendering can demonstrate different layers of the body including the
skeleton, the muscles and the vasculature without the need for dissections.

The talk also covered the relationship between Imaging and its use or depiction in modern media. Examples of films incorporating x-raythemes with characters being able to see through their and other peoples bodies were illustrated with particular reference to the film
about Superman ‘Man of Steel’ as well as The Avengers movies and of course the robots  in Transformers.

The talk was beautifully illustrated with numerous examples of paintings and images from a variety of historical sources which illustrated the interface between images as art  and more recent medical imaging inspired new art were  also presented for our delectation. Of particular interest was the  analysis of the old ideas on old paintings   from  a more modern radiological perspective. The talk was a gallimaufry of interesting images and provided a penetrating insight into the interface  between ideas on art and the subject of
radiology where images are used  by doctors to make diagnoses of illness in humans. 


Paul Langevin (1872-1946)


23 January 2022 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Paul Langevin, the eminent French physicist who is the father of pulse-echo ultrasound. During 1917, working with the French and British Navies, he designed the first piezoelectric ultrasonic transducers using X-cut quartz. These were operated in pulse-echo mode to detect submarines. Subsequent developments in ultrasound, including its diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical uses, all derive from Langevin’s pioneering work during WWI. Several publications and events are being planned during 2022 to mark his anniversary.

(Image credit Adrian Thomas)







 ‘The amazing story of Lise Meitner by Andrew Norman

Pen and Sword Books UK 2021




Reviewed by


Dr Arpan K Banerjee

Chair Int Soc Hist Radiology (ISHRAD),

Former Chair Brit Soc Hist Radiology


The name Lise Meitner is not as familiar with the public today as it deserves to be. Albert Einstein considered her to be the German ‘Marie Curie’ and she was one of the brightest female physicists of her era.

This new biography by Andrew Norman tells the tale of this remarkable woman and her eventful life and contributions to physics in an accessible manner for readers of all backgrounds to appreciate.

She was born in Vienna, Austria in 1878 and showed an early passion for science. Meitner studied maths and physics in Vienna University and in 1905 was awarded her physics doctorate being the first female from Vienna to achieve this ( She was only the second woman in the world to obtain a doctorate at a time when the field of science was dominated by men.)

She became interested in radioactivity and initially studied alpha particles.

Meitner moved to Berlin, became friends with Max Planck ( of quantum theory fame ) and collaborated with the chemist Otto Hahn. She continued her work on radiochemistry and isotopes and beta decay and radioactive processes at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, Berlin for 30 years from 1907 and her fruitful collaborations with Hahn and others produced over fifty papers. She discovered the isotope protactinium and worked on the neutron bombardment of uranium. Sadly due to the Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany she emigrated in 1938 to Stockholm, Sweden.

In 1939 she published her mathematical work on nuclear fission in the journal Nature with her nephew Otto Frisch ( later to prove important in the development of the atom bomb) but in 1944 it was Hahn who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this with her contribution not acknowledged by the Nobel committee. Interestingly she was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and Physics on numerous occasions from 1939 onwards but was unsuccessful in obtaining one.

In later life this injustice was partly rectified by being awarded the Fermi Prize in 1966 and she went on to receive numerous honorary degrees and other awards including the Max Planck medal , Otto Hahn prize, membership of the Swedish Academy of Sciences and foreign membership of the Royal Society, London. She was an excellent ambassador for women in science and continued to encourage women to enter these fields well into her 80’s. She spent her final retirement years in Cambridge, UK passing away in 1968. The element meitnerium was named after her in her honour.

This superb biography of an outstanding scientist is well written with black and white illustrations and an index and serves to remind us all of her remarkable life lived with honesty, integrity and dignity as well as her numerous scientific achievements. The characters portrayed in the book and her collaborators and scientific contemporaries are a who’s who of important scientists of the first half of the twentieth century and reading this book was an informative, humbling and inspiring experience.




Gaston Contremoulins 1869-1950 Visionary Pioneer of Radiology by Patrick Mornet

EDP sciences, France 2019 p188



Reviewed by Dr Arpan K Banerjee Chair Int Soc Hist Radiology (ISHRAD) , Past Chair and current trustee Brit Soc Hist Radiology (BSHR)


The name Gaston Contremoulins is probably unfamiliar to most radiologists even in his native country of France.

In this brilliant biography by Dr Patrick Mornet ( translated from French to English by Prof Giller) readers are reminded of all the major contributions made by this remarkable self-taught genius who was not a qualified doctor, and despite the prejudice and opposition that he faced throughout his career went on to make major scientific contributions to his chosen field of radiography.

Contremoulins started off trying to pursue a career in art but soon realised that his talents would not enable him to make a mark in this field. He then began to develop an interest in photography and obtained employment in the microphotography laboratory in Paris working with the professors of pathology and histology and anatomy. He came to the attention of Professor Marey and joined the physiological laboratory of the Institute of France. He became proficient in physics, mathematics, geometry as well as anatomy and physiology and photography and this placed him in good stead when Rontgen made his discovery of x-rays in 1895. Contremoulins became fascinated by X-rays and very quickly decided to make this his life’s work. His skills enabled him to develop techniques for improving radiographic examinations of patients.

He is particularly famous today for his early experiments in using radiographic techniques for identifying foreign bodies especially in the skull. As such he is rightly considered the inventor of the principles of stereotaxis a technique which today remains important in neurosurgery. He adapted photographic techniques using geometric reconstructions from drawings he had made and created the operating compass which enabled accurate three-dimensional identification of foreign bodies a technique he described as metroradiography. He was made head of the radiology laboratories and developed the service at the famous Necker hospital in Paris from 1898 till 1934. He was fortunate as the hospital had electricity which was not present in the department of Professor Beclere who is today considered the father of radiology in France. The other person who had the facility of electricity in their department in Paris was Albert Londe at the Salpetriere Hospital .

Contremoulins developed stereoscopy which was a 3D visualisation technique which helped define the depth of metallic foreign bodies within human tissues. He also assisted Professor Sicard in performing the first myelogram with lipiodol. He made contributions to the field of orthopaedic radiography. In the early days only one image was used for identification of fractures. His radiosurgical techniques helped orthopaedic surgeons identify femoral neck fractures more accurately and resulted in better outcomes for these patients. He invented the techniques of pelvimetry for obstetricians. He even made advances in the field of radiological protection and safety, a subject which he took seriously and very few of his personnel suffered from radiation injuries which were common in the early part of the 20th century.

The book covers the difficulties that Contremoulins faced throughout his career. As he was not a medical man radiologists who were medically qualified were in opposition to his being given influence and prominence. In the early days there were considerable conflicts between practitioners who were medically qualified and those who were not. Contremoulins believe it was important to be trained and competent at what he was doing and this had nothing to do with having a medical degree. He argued that his mechanical skills and knowledge of engineering principles and mathematics enabled him to provide a high-quality service taking radiographs. He believed in teamwork long before it became fashionable. Interestingly the surgeons liked working with him as he helped improve the outcomes for their patients. The book gives us an insight into radiological practice in the early part of the 20th century in Paris and introduces us to many of the important medical men of that era. It contains numerous photographs and is well referenced with an extensive bibliography for those who might wish to read the original papers.

Biographies of radiological/radiographic interest are few and far between. This volume is a superb contribution to the field of radiological history and does justice to the contributions of a remarkable man who has all but been forgotten even in his native land.




 This 30-minute video describes the medical career of Arthur Schüller as well as the lives of his family members.

Schüller was born in 1874 and the  arc of his life mirrored the rise and decline of Austria from 1870 till 1955. The Schüller family origins lie in Bucovice and Brunn but his early medical career was spent in Berlin and at the AKH in Vienna.

In 1906 he married Margarete Stiassni, daughter of a wealthy Brunn industrialist. In spite of severe financial constraints on the Medical School after World War I , Arthur was closely involved in the successful graduate courses for foreign doctors who came to  learn from those who had been leading figures in establishing Vienna’s pre-eminent international position in medical science. By the 1930’s Schüller was well known internationally and he travelled to conferences world wide. .

As a Jew  he was expelled from the University in 1938. His search for a home elsewhere involved fellow scholars in the USA, UK and Australia . After a  spell in Oxford  he settled in Australia with eventually at post at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne.

The Schüllers’ two sons had died in Nazi camps  and this appears to  have provoked  Arthur's later decline into withdrawal and depression. He and Margarete lived  in Heidelberg, a suburb of Melbourne, until his death in 1957.

His contribution to medical science - pioneering three surgical procedures and identifying three neurological diseases –  led to him being seen as the father of the discipline of neuro-radiology. His two seminal books established this field.

The link to the video is https://youtu.be/YhRLobn-Ubw