Diagnostic imaging over the last 50 years: research and development in medical imaging science and technology

Phys Med Biol. 2006 Jul 7;51(13):R5-27. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/51/13/R02. Epub 2006 Jun 20.


Over the last 50 years, diagnostic imaging has grown from a state of infancy to a high level of maturity. Many new imaging modalities have been developed. However, modern medical imaging includes not only image production but also image processing, computer-aided diagnosis (CAD), image recording and storage, and image transmission, most of which are included in a picture archiving and communication system (PACS). The content of this paper includes a short review of research and development in medical imaging science and technology, which covers (a) diagnostic imaging in the 1950s, (b) the importance of image quality and diagnostic performance, (c) MTF, Wiener spectrum, NEQ and DQE, (d) ROC analysis, (e) analogue imaging systems, (f) digital imaging systems, (g) image processing, (h) computer-aided diagnosis, (i) PACS, (j) 3D imaging and (k) future directions. Although some of the modalities are already very sophisticated, further improvements will be made in image quality for MRI, ultrasound and molecular imaging. The infrastructure of PACS is likely to be improved further in terms of its reliability, speed and capacity. However, CAD is currently still in its infancy, and is likely to be a subject of research for a long time.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Science Disciplines / instrumentation
  • Biological Science Disciplines / methods
  • Biological Science Disciplines / trends
  • Biotechnology / instrumentation*
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Biotechnology / trends
  • Diagnostic Imaging / instrumentation*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / trends
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation*
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Research / trends*