The Henry Ford Violins: Where Medicine Meets Music

I would normally be concerned about privacy issues and other regulations regarding the sharing of clinical information about patients, but I am going to risk it to tell you about two recent and unique patients we examined at Henry Ford:  Mr. Stradivarius and Mr. Guarneri.

Actually these were not really patients but two extraordinary musical instruments: the 1709 Stradivarius and the 1744 Guarneri del Gesu.

These very rare violins – part of the historical artifact collection at The Henry Ford in Dearborn – weren’t here for the usual examination and blood work that we would recommend for 300-year-old patients.  They weren’t here for a tune-up either.

The Henry Ford, the museum and more which is one of the great treasures in the world, was hoping to make new discoveries about these “old world” musical instruments using some of our “high-tech” medical instruments, specifically the computed tomography equipment in the Department of Radiology.

So how do you use modern-day medical technology designed for humans to uncover the history of a 300-year-old violin’s design and repair?

Enter Henry Ford Hospital radiologist Dr. John Bonnett.

While his focus is on abdominal imaging at the hospital, he has made a hobby out of imaging non-human objects with the CT scanner – flowers, seashells, watches. Continue reading

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