As radiologists, we use many types (modalities) of imaging technology to learn more about how the human body is working without having to resort to surgery. These include: X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and positron emission tomography (PET) scans as well as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Regarding this last modality, the idea of using magnets to look at electrically charged particles inside the human body was once ridiculed as crazy. Today, MRI is used in thousands of locations around the world to help radiologists and other health care professionals better understand the human body.
On July 3, 1977, a machine built around a giant magnet took crude images of a test patient’s chest, including the heart and lungs. This marked the first-ever use of a machine to scan the body for signs of cancer. The machine, called Indomitable, was the first human scanner and earliest MRI technology.