A half-century of innovation in technology-preparing MRI for the 21st century

Br J Radiol. 2020 Jul;93(1111):20200113. doi: 10.1259/bjr.20200113. Epub 2020 Jun 15.


MRI developed during the last half-century from a very basic concept to an indispensable non-ionising medical imaging technique that has found broad application in diagnostics, therapy control and far beyond. Due to its excellent soft-tissue contrast and the huge variety of accessible tissue- and physiological-parameters, MRI is often preferred to other existing modalities. In the course of its development, MRI underwent many substantial transformations. From the beginning, starting as a proof of concept, much effort was expended to develop the appropriate basic scanning technology and methodology, and to establish the many clinical contrasts (e.g., T1, T2, flow, diffusion, water/fat, etc.) that MRI is famous for today. Beyond that, additional prominent innovations to the field have been parallel imaging and compressed sensing, leading to significant scanning time reductions, and the move towards higher static magnetic field strengths, which led to increased sensitivity and improved image quality. Improvements in workflow and the use of artificial intelligence are among many current trends seen in this field, paving the way for a broad use of MRI. The 125th anniversary of the BJR is a good point to reflect on all these changes and developments and to offer some slightly speculative ideas as to what the future may bring.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence / trends
  • Contrast Media
  • Deep Learning / trends
  • Humans
  • Inventions / trends*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / trends*
  • Magnetics
  • Workflow


  • Contrast Media