History of Ultrasound in Australia 2021-07-19T15:36:43+00:00

History of Ultrasound in Australia

The story of Australian medical ultrasound began 50 years ago with the establishment in 1959 of an Ultrasound Research Section within the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories. Within a few years the group was recognised as one of the leading ultrasound research groups in the world.

In 1975 the group became a separate entity and its name was changed to the Ultrasonics Institute (or UI). The Institute contributed vigorously to the development of the technology and clinical applications of diagnostic ultrasound until 1997.

1961 Design and construction of weakly focussing broadband transducers (George Kossoff, Ian Shepherd & Reg Allen)
1962 First images of late pregnancy at Royal Hospital for Women with Mk I Abdominal Echoscope (David Robinson, George Kossoff, George Radovanovich, Dr William Garrett)
1966 First images of breast at Royal North Shore Hospital (Jack Jellins, George Kossoff, Brian Hill, Prof. Tom Reeve)
1967 First images of eye at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (Michael Dadd, David Robinson, George Kossoff, Dr Bill Hughes)
1967 Mk II Abdominal Echoscope (David Robinson, George Kossoff, George Radovanovich, Dr William Garrett)
1968 Publication of comprehensive article on ultrasound image artifacts (David Robinson)
1969 Development of grey scale imaging, leading to significantly improved images (George Kossoff, David Carpenter, Michael Dadd, Jack Jellins, Kaye Griffiths, Margaret Tabrett)
1972 National Health Act amended to authorise Ultrasonics Research Section to provide “research and advisory services” to the Department and Government
1973 First images of the brains of infants (George Kossoff, Margaret Tabrett, Kaye Griffiths, Dr William Garrett, Dr Peter Warren)
1973 Mini-computer installed to acquire and process ultrasound data (David Robinson, Bruce Williams)
1974 Curved Annular Phased Array installed on the Mk II Abdominal Echoscope to improve the resolution of images of the pregnant uterus (George Kossoff, David Robinson, George Radovanovich, Ian Shepherd)
1975 Ultrasonics Institute created as a separate Branch of Commonwealth Department of Health
1975 Development of the UI Octoson (George Kossoff, David Robinson, David Carpenter, Ian Shepherd, George Radovanovich)
1975 Nucleus Group licensed to manufacture the UI Octoson via a new subsidiary company Ausonics, with the first units delivered in 1976
1975 Commenced work on Ultrasound Doppler volume blood flow measurement (Robert Gill)
1978 Formal UI/RHW course commenced
1979 First Doppler paper published (Robert Gill)
1987 Aberration correction for overlying tissue (David Carpenter, Yue Li)
1989 Ultrasonics Institute transferred to CSIRO and renamed Ultrasonics Laboratory
1990 Sponsored research undertaken for Defence Department in collaboration with GEC-Marconi to develop a 1mm resolution 3D imager for imaging sea-mines in turbid water
1992 Sponsored research undertaken for Meat Research Corporation
1996 Colour Doppler imaging system licensed to Philips for use in their commercial equipment
1997 Staff split between CSIRO Marsfield and Lindfield
2005 Doppler flow measurement system licensed to Philips for use in their commercial equipment
While the Ultrasonics Institute and its collaborators dominated the earliest years of ultrasound development in Australia, a number of pioneering Australian clinicians were quick to recognise the potential of the new modality and decided to explore it for themselves. Notable amongst these were*:

  • Dr Ian McDonald (Melbourne, 1966)
  • Dr John McCaffrey (Brisbane, 1966)
  • Dr John Morrison (Brisbane, 1970)
  • Dr Jim Roche (Sydney, 1971)
  • Dr David Cooper (Brisbane, 1972)
  • Dr Don Aickin (Melbourne, 1972)
  • Dr John Stewart (Auckland, 1972)
  • Drs Dugdale and Wong (Melbourne, 1973)
  • Drs Cook, Furness and Verco (Adelaide, 1973)
  • Dr Stan Reid (Perth, 1973)
  • Drs Corrie, Taylor and Campbell (Hobart, 1973)

* Information from: Diagnostic Ultrasound, Peter Verco, Australasian Radiology 1981; 25th Anniversary Issue 115-123.

1965 First demonstration of fetal spine, allowing identification of head from trunk and limbs and leading to determinations of fetal size and growth
1966 Demonstration of fetal intracranial echoes
1968 Demonstration of fetal orbits, heart, bladder, kidneys and scrotum
1970 Introduction of grey scale ultrasound, improving dramatically the demonstration of normal and abnormal structures in the fetus, placenta and mother
1976 Establishment of criteria for recognising placental ageing using grey scale ultrasound
1976 First discussion of fetal surgery
1980 Display of fetal brain development by grey scale ultrasound
1980 Monitoring of fetal umbilical venous blood flow in normal and complicated pregnancies
1980 Demonstration of fetal lung, liver and bowel maturation by grey scale ultrasound
1993 Development of real-time quasi-3D obstetric ultrasound
1974 Grey scale ultrasound atlas of normal infant brain produced
1975 Assessment of hydrocephalus
1978 Abdominal grey scale ultrasound in children
1980 Production of tables and graphs of normal cerebral ventricular sizes in children
1980 Demonstration of detailed posterior cranial fossa anatomy in the neonate
History of ASUM
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History of ASUM
Historical Documents
ASUM Office Bearers
ASUM Conferences
Photo Gallery