Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Beatles’ gift to medicine

It’s an underappreciated fact that The Beatles played an important role in delivering the CT scan to clinical medicine and making it ready for prime time. When I began residency in St. Louis in 1975 there were only two CT scanners, then known as EMI scanners, in the city. EMI was Electronic and Musical Industries, the company that manufactured the scanners in the early days. It was also the parent company of The Beatles’ two record labels, Capitol Records and Apple Records.

Sir Godfrey Hounsfield, whose BMJ obit is here, worked as an engineer for EMI and was the inventor of the CT scan (PubMed citation here). According to this article from Whittington Hospital: Having sold 200 million of the Fab Four’s singles, (at seven inches, almost enough vinyl to stretch the length of the equator) the Beatles’ record company, EMI, was able to fund Hounsfield to do his research and the scanner was ready be used in hospitals in the 1970’s.

Image source: The Library of Congress

1 comment:

DigitalMom said...

What a story! Very intriguing. Thanks for the interesting piece.