History of the BSSR

The advance of knowledge and technology has caused increased specialisation in almost all areas of human activity, but probably none more so than medicine.  The Royal College of Radiologists was formed as a faculty in 1939. Despite the rapid development of many radiographic and contrast techniques from the early years of the 20th century almost all radiologists were generalists.  It was in the 1960s and 70s with  CT, nuclear medicine, ultrasound and new interventional techniques utilising image intensifiers that, at least in the larger centres, sub specialisations began to emerge. This trend led to the emergence of a large number of specialist societies, starting with nuclear medicine and neuroradiology in the 1960s.


It was at the 1985 International Skeletal Society conference in Edinburgh that Dr Denis Stoker proposed the formation of a new skeletal radiology society to an informal meeting of radiologists.  He convened the first meeting of the 'Skeletal Radiology Group' in the basement of the National Orthopaedic Hospital in Bolsover Street London on Friday 29th November 1985.  The 14 radiologists present endorsed the objectives which had been set in Edinburgh; to provide a forum for radiologists with an interest in the skeleton in order to further the practice of skeletal radiology and to exchange scientific information through discussion of cases, presentation of papers and teaching courses.  It was decided to hold 2 meetings per year, one in the autumn in London, and one in the provinces in the spring.  There was to be a register of members and their areas of interest/ expertise.


This set the pattern for the organisation as it grew.  Initially a special interest group of the Royal College of Radiologists, in March 1995 it became the British Society of Skeletal Radiologists.  March 1994 in Cardiff marked the first 2 day refresher course which provides an opportunity for members and non-members to update their knowledge of musculoskeletal imaging.  This has proved to be a valuable exercise which is now held every second year. 


The society increasingly provides expert advice to the government, quangos, the Royal College of Radiologists and other medical organisations on a wide variety of issues related to musculoskeletal imaging.  It participates in the production of the referral guidance the College has promoted to clinicians.  Grants have been provided for education and for research.


As the society membership and activities grew it became necessary to form an executive committee.  The first of these meetings was held in November 2000.  The executive meetings are held 3-4 weeks ahead of the autumn and spring meetings.


The BSSR became a limited liability company and charity in 2011.


What does the future hold?  We can be fairly sure that the membership will continue to rise. The activities and expertise that they bring will do so too.  The internet and digital technology offers opportunities to spread that expertise amongst the membership, the wider medical community and increasingly patients.  The future looks increasingly demanding but the society is in good form to meet it.


Dr Robert Cooper