Milestones in CT: Past, Present, and Future
Cynthia H McCollough, Prabhakar Shantha Rajiah
Radiology . 2023 Oct;309(1):e230803. doi: 10.1148/radiol.230803.
In 1971, the first patient CT examination by Ambrose and Hounsfield paved the way for not only volumetric imaging of the brain but of the entire body. From the initial 5-minute scan for a 180° rotation to today's 0.24-second scan for a 360° rotation, CT technology continues to reinvent itself. This article describes key historical milestones in CT technology from the earliest days of CT to the present, with a look toward the future of this essential imaging modality. After a review of the beginnings of CT and its early adoption, the technical steps taken to decrease scan times-both per image and per examination-are reviewed. Novel geometries such as electron-beam CT and dual-source CT have also been developed in the quest for ever-faster scans and better in-plane temporal resolution. The focus of the past 2 decades on radiation dose optimization and management led to changes in how exposure parameters such as tube current and tube potential are prescribed such that today, examinations are more customized to the specific patient and diagnostic task than ever before. In the mid-2000s, CT expanded its reach from gray-scale to color with the clinical introduction of dual-energy CT. Today's most recent technical innovation-photon-counting CT-offers greater capabilities in multienergy CT as well as spatial resolution as good as 125 μm. Finally, artificial intelligence is poised to impact both the creation and processing of CT images, as well as automating many tasks to provide greater accuracy and reproducibility in quantitative applications.