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.

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

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