The history of medical progress is a story of technological aids and equipment. Throughout history, medical devices have been used to diagnose and treat disease, relieve pain, and find out more about the structure of the human body and how it works. Numerous advances in medical technology are closely associated with Siemens. "We are proud that our innovations have been helping to shape progress in medical technology for many decades," says Prof. Dr. Hermann Requardt, Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG and CEO Siemens Healthcare.
The Siemens MedMuseum traces the development of the various technologies and tells the stories of pioneering figures. "They are the ones who, with their inventive spirit and drive, have made our business what it is today, over more than 160 years," says Michael Sen, CFO Siemens Healthcare. It all started with Werner Siemens, who in 1844 put one of his inventions to use for medical purposes for the first time, using electricity to treat his brother Friedrich for tooth pain. Just three years later, Siemens teamed up with Johann Georg Halske to found Siemens & Halske, a Berlin-based company that produced electromedical equipment in addition to telegraphs. In Erlangen, Erwin Moritz Reiniger joined with Max Gebbert and Karl Schall to form the medical technology company Reiniger, Gebbert & Schall (RGS), which was to supply Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen himself - the discoverer of X-rays - with X-ray tubes no long afterward. The RGS factory's historic machine shop, from 1893, is now home to the Siemens MedMuseum - just a few hundred meters from the present-day headquarters of medical technology at Siemens.
From "shadow images" to sectional imaging
The Siemens MedMuseum devotes a wealth of space to the early days of medical technology, featuring electromedicine, in the form of electrostimulation devices such as Reiniger's plunge battery - the oldest piece on exhibit, dating to the period shortly after RGS was founded, in 1886 - and, most especially, X-ray imaging, which has an exhibition area of its own, called "shadow images". Use of X-rays at the turn of the 20th century laid the groundwork for medical imaging. An X-ray unit from 1902 designed by Friedrich Dessauer, whose Elektrotechnisches Laboratorium Aschaffenburg (ELA) was later acquired by RGS, bears witness to these early years. Not long afterward, the other effects of X-ray exposure were discovered as well, and radiation therapy became an established part of medicine, with proven effects. As fascinating as this pioneering era in medical technology is, the Siemens MedMuseum also recalls the sacrifices made by the first users of X-ray technology because they did not know the risks of their work.
The "slices and sections" area deals with a relatively young era in medical imaging: In ultrathin slices, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) visualize the inside of the body. Siemens has been a driving force behind the development of both technologies right from the start. The first German MRI image - an image of a bell pepper, taken in 1980 - attests to this. The first Siemens systems of both types, the Magnetom MRI scanner (1983) and the Siretom computed tomography scanner (1975), which was developed for cranial diagnosis, are on display at the Siemens MedMuseum. Next door, in an area devoted to ultrasound imaging, a breakthrough in ultrasound technology is presented: the Vidoson, launched in 1965, which made it possible to present ultrasound images in real time for the first time ever, thereby observing movements in the body. Nowadays, ultrasound is an integral part of modern obstetrical care.
From the first dental drill to laboratory diagnostics
Alongside the focus on imaging, the Siemens MedMuseum also takes up the other areas of medical technology in which Siemens has played a major role, such as audiology. Louis Weber, who developed the first Siemens electric hearing aid, the Phonophor, from 1911 onwards, is given his own station. Another audio presentation recalls William Niendorf, who built Germany's first electric dental drill at RGS in 1890. Yet another features Swedish inventor Rune Elmqvist, who produced the first fully implantable cardiac pacemaker while working at Elema-Schönander (later Siemens-Elema) in the 1950s. And while laboratory diagnostics has only been a major part of medical technology at Siemens for eight years, the Siemens MedMuseum also offers a reminder that the company positioned itself in the field of laboratory automation for a short time back in the 1970s: The Silab system made it possible to analyze significantly more samples and automatically associate results with individual patients, at both hospitals and private practices.
Many stations feature tablet computers that offer museum visitors additional information and images. A digital map of the world illustrates how Siemens Healthcare has developed globally. The virtual "window on the archive" lets visitors learn more about the work done by the Siemens Medical Archive, right next door. And they can explore how form and design shape the appearance of the technical devices. Throughout it all, there is always a link with the historic setting: At several stations, visitors to the Siemens MedMuseum can take a closer look at the former machine shop from the 1890s.
In the future, regular special exhibitions will be held to provide further information on the various thematic areas covered at the museum. The building's modern annex offers an additional 100 square meters of space for these exhibitions.
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About Siemens Healthcare Sector
The Siemens Healthcare Sector is one of the world's largest suppliers to the healthcare industry and a trendsetter in medical imaging, laboratory diagnostics, medical information technology and hearing aids. Siemens offers its customers products and solutions for the entire range of patient care from a single source - from prevention and early detection to diagnosis, and on to treatment and aftercare. By optimizing clinical workflows for the most common diseases, Siemens also makes healthcare faster, better and more cost-effective. Siemens Healthcare employs some 52,000 employees worldwide and operates around the world. In fiscal year 2013 (to September 30), the Sector posted revenue of 13.6 billion euros and profit of 2.0 billion euros.