A historical overview of magnetic resonance imaging, focusing on technological innovations

Invest Radiol. 2012 Dec;47(12):725-41. doi: 10.1097/RLI.0b013e318272d29f.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has now been used clinically for more than 30 years. Today, MRI serves as the primary diagnostic modality for many clinical problems. In this article, historical developments in the field of MRI will be discussed with a focus on technological innovations. Topics include the initial discoveries in nuclear magnetic resonance that allowed for the advent of MRI as well as the development of whole-body, high field strength, and open MRI systems. Dedicated imaging coils, basic pulse sequences, contrast-enhanced, and functional imaging techniques will also be discussed in a historical context. This article describes important technological innovations in the field of MRI, together with their clinical applicability today, providing critical insights into future developments.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Inventions / history
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / history*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods