Glasgow School of Art

The ultrasound scan

Now a standard feature on hospital wards, ultrasound was developed as a diagnostic tool over 60 years ago as the result of a collaboration between experts in clinical obstetrics, engineering and industrial design.

Together they created the first prototypes and production models of ultrasound scanners for obstetrics scanning in hospitals.

Today ultrasound it is a routine part of ante-natal care.  It has made pregnancy and labour safer, allowing for more effective detection and treatment of foetal abnormality.

Ultrasound scanning is used in a myriad of other areas, and recent advances have enabled real-time three-dimensional images to be produced. It has become an indispensable, non-invasive diagnostic tool.

Professor Ian Donald, University of Glasgow, pioneered the development of ultrasound for obstetrics in collaboration with fellow obstetrician Dr John McVicar and engineer Tom Brown, from the Glasgow firm Kelvin Hughes.

On 8 June 1958 they published a seminal scientific paper in the medical journal, The Lancet.

Crucial to making the technology more fit for use was the work of industrial designer, Dugald Cameron.

As a final year student at The Glasgow School of Art he persuaded Tom Brown to reconsider the design to facilitate its use by both medics and patients. Dugald Cameron went on to design the first ever commercially-produced ultrasonic scanner, the Diasonograph.

Further Reading