John J. Wild. Photograph: Boston.com
John Julian Cuttance Wild (11 August 1914 - 18 September 2009) was an English-born American physician, who was part of the first group to use ultrasound for imaging the body, most notably for diagnosing cancer. The modern ultrasonic diagnostic medical scans are improvements upon the equipment Wild developed in the 1950s. He has since been referred to as the "Father of Medical Ultrasound".
Wild was born in Kent, United Kingdom in 1914. He attended Merchant Taylor's School and took out his first patent at the age of 14, for a device to distribute an even amount of hot and cold water in a bathtub. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Natural Sciences Tripos from the University of Cambridge in 1936. In 1940, he was awarded a Master of Arts. And he also became a Doctor of Medicine in 1942. He was elected a member of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1944 and then, in the same year joined the Royal Army Medical Corps.
In 1946, he emigrated to the US and began working at the University of Minnesota in the department of surgery. In 1950, he switched to the electrical engineering department. During World War II he had seen many patients that had suffered with bowel failure and he had developed a technique called the "Wild Tube". In the US, he saw patients with the same conditions, and so he conceived the idea of using ultrasound as a non-invasive means of determining the intestinal injuries of patients. The sound bounced back from the tissue, identifying its thickness and resilience of the portion of intestine being scanned. He had developed his idea, after hearing of high-frequency sounds being used as a means to identify cracks in tank armour.
The first machines did not have a strong enough resolution to scan the intestines, but by 1951 Wild and Dr. John Reid gained access to equipment that operated at 15 MHz, which providing the detail needed to carry out internal scans and differentiate between cancerous and healthy tissue.
In 1991, Wild earned the Japan Prize, in recognition of his work within the field of ultrasound imaging.