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December 24, 1997

CT Scans Probe Secrets of Italian Masters' Violins

JAMA. 1997;278(24):2128-2130. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550240016006

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IT STARTED in 1988 when radiologist Steven A. Sirr, MD, took along his violin to pass the time while on weekend duty at a local hospital. After performing a computed tomographic (CT) scan on an accident victim, Sirr wondered what a scan of his violin would look like. In the 9 years that followed his first violin CT scan, Sirr and his colleagues have used CT to probe the secrets of some of the rarest and most beautiful stringed instruments ever made, including 4 Stradivarius violins and other masterpieces.

Speaking earlier this month at the 83rd Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), in Chicago, Ill, Sirr, who is in practice with Consulting Radiologists, Ltd, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis, Minn, described the results of his studies. To date, he and several colleagues have scanned more than 30 instruments, including 14 recognized masterpieces. According