The World’s First Full-Color 3D X-rays Are Made With CERN Tech


Forget about the black and white x-rays! Soon they could be replaced with 3D colored scans that can show you everything: fat, bone, metal and soft tissue.

Behind the new scanner is a team composed from father and son Phil and Anthony Butler, both scientists in New Zealand. They created the MARS spectral x-ray scanner with some inspiration from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). You might have heard about CERN when you read about the hunt for the Higgs boson (the ‘God particle’), or the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator.

The 3D color scans are better than the old ones, as it shows more information to doctors and it can be used to see fat, water, calcium and disease markers. Seeing these colored 3D scans, it’s like looking under the skin at an anatomical cross-section. In a press release, Anthony Butler, who is a radiologist at the Universities of Otago and Canterbury, stated:

“So far researchers have been using a small version of the MARS scanner to study cancer, bone and joint health, and vascular diseases that cause heart attacks and strokes.”

A Clear Image for Accurate Diagnoses

The MARS scanner uses a technology – the Medipix chip – which was developed at CERN. In a statement, CERN explained how the chip works:

“The original concept of Medipix is that it works like a camera, detecting and counting each individual particle hitting the pixels when its electronic shutter is open.”

Medipix technology helps in creating more accurate and reliable images, which are ideal for use in medical imaging, added CERN:

“This colour X-ray imaging technique could produce clearer and more accurate pictures and help doctors give their patients more accurate diagnoses.”

The image shows an ankle and wrist – which belong to Phil Butler, who was the first person scanned with MARS.

MARS Bioimaging is selling the scanner to allow doctors get more accurate diagnosis of many conditions: from arthritis to cancer. It will also help doctors find better treatment plans, said Anthony Butler.

The next step for MARS Bioimaging is to begin clinical trials and start scanning orthopedic and rheumatology patients.


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