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  • Writer's pictureJohn Koivukangas

The Beginnings of Academic Work - Ultrasound Imaging 1981

Päivitetty: 2. maalisk. 2020

This picture is from the laboratory led by then M.Sc., now Professor Esko Alasaarela. You can see the blue water tank, the pathological specimens, the electronics, the ABC microcomputer, connected to a central UNIVAC mainframe (image calculation took 25 hours per slice!)

Where it all started in Oulu and Minneapolis

My academic work was based on the paradigm of the innovative clinic: Needs are identified in the clinical setting, solved with the help of engineers and scientists, brought to market by industry, and finally implemented in the clinic, where the process began. Each partner wins: the clinic gets a new service, the university its academic theses and publications, and industry its new markets.

In 1980 I needed something to image brain during surgery as we were operating for the first time in history on small tumors discovered by CT, and all we neurosurgeons had was a brain needle (the Cushing Needle) to poke into the brain feeling for something different, that is, tumor tissue.

At the Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Oulu, Finland, I learned how to read ultrasound images. Experiences with Esko Alasaarela and his coworkers formed the basis of successive projects in my career, having already learned in Minneapolis how to work professionally with engineers and scientists as well as industry.

So I defined a problem and used scenario thinking to sift through solutions with coworkers, which led to painstaking, often ground-breaking iterative development, and finally clinical success.

My tumor patients simply did not have time to wait for molecular biology and the many promises of silver bullets.


Koivukangas J (1984) Ultrasound imaging in operative neurosurgery: An experimental and clinical study with special reference to ultrasound holographic B (UHB) imaging. Doctoral dissertation. Acta Universitatis Ouluensis D 115. Oulu University Printing Center.


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