Radiology was introduced in the Malay Peninsula soon after the discovery of X-rays, i.e. February 1897, with the installation of the first x-ray machine in South East Asia. This occurred in Taiping, Perak. Unfortunately the first subject did not benefit very much from the event, since it was a Pomfret fish that was X-rayed. This demonstration was carried out by a Mr. Wray. This historic event took place even before availability of public lighting (first installed at the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station) or hydroelectric power (the first of which was constructed by a mining company in Raub). A complete X-ray machine was donated to the Government Hospital in Ipoh in October 1897 in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Celebration. There is documentary evidence of X-rays being presented at a meeting of the Malaysian branch of the British Medical Association in 1905. The General Hospital in Kuala Lumpur received its X-ray equipment on the 15th of February 1910 followed by the Penang General Hospital in that same year.
In 1920, Dr Harold Mowat was appointed radiologist to the Federated Malay States but he was also responsible for both the electrotherapy and radiotherapy. Unfortunately, he died three years later following which Dr CF Constant was appointed radiologist. In 1924, the first dark room to process X-ray films was built at the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital (KLGH). Prior to this, the X-ray plates were developed by local photographers. By 1927, the General Hospital, European Hospital and the New Hospital Site at Circular Road (all in Kuala Lumpur), District Hospital Ipoh and Seremban Hospital had new x-ray equipment. The new hospital on Circular Road was originally called the Pauper’s Hospital. Currently, this is the site of the Hospital Kuala Lumpur. The then KL general Hospital was located at the site of the Tanglin Hospital. The first fluoroscopy machine was installed in 1927. Dr PTK Nayar was the first Malaysian to qualify with a Diploma in Medical Radiotherapy/Radiology and Electrotherapy (D.M.R.E.). In 1956, Dr YC Lian became the first radiologist in private practice. Dr Omar bin Din as the first Malaysian to be appointed Consultant Radiologist of Selangor & the Federated Malay States in 1957.
Mobile Mass Miniature Chest X-ray vehicles were used to take chest X-rays of people in the rural areas following the setting-up of National Tuberculosis Centre (NTBC) in 1960. Malaysia’s first school of radiography was set up in the KLGH in 1963. There were 14 students in that intake. Cerebral angiography was first performed in the same year at the KLGH while peripheral angiography was first performed in Penang General Hospital in 1966. Cardiac angiography was done in the University Hospital, Kuala Lumpur in 1967. The School of Radiotherapy started in 1969.
Mammographic services were started in KLGH in 1972 using a dedicated mammographic machine. Ultrasound came on the scene in 1974 when the Faculty of Medicine, University Kebangsaan Malaysia bought the first machine. 1977 saw the introduction of Computer Tomography when a scanner was installed in Institute of Radiotherapy and Oncology, KLGH. University Kebangsaan Malaysia started a training programme for radiologists in 1983 conferring a Masters of Radiology. MRI was installed in the KLGH in 1992.