Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tests on century-old equipment show how far X-rays have come

Date:
March 20, 2011
Source:
Radiological Society of North America
Summary:
Researchers recently tested first-generation x-ray equipment from 1896 and found that it produced radiation doses and exposure times that were vastly higher than those of today's systems, according a new study.

Researchers recently tested first-generation x-ray equipment from 1896 and found that it produced radiation doses and exposure times that were vastly higher than those of today's systems, according a study published online and in the May print edition of Radiology.

Related Articles


"To my knowledge, nobody had ever done systematic measurements on this equipment, since by the time one had the tools, these systems had been replaced by more sophisticated ones," said the study's lead author, Gerrit J. Kemerink, Ph.D., from Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

Wilhelm Roentgen reported his discovery of x-rays on Dec. 28, 1895. A few weeks later, H.J. Hoffmans, a physicist and high school director in Maastricht, the Netherlands, and L. Th. van Kleef, M.D., director of a local hospital, performed anatomical imaging experiments with an x-ray system built from equipment at Hoffmans' high school. Key elements of the system included a high-voltage transformer and a glass bulb with metal electrodes at each end.

Technology advanced rapidly, and the setup used by Hoffmans and Dr. van Kleef soon became obsolete. Eventually, the equipment ended up collecting dust in a Maastricht warehouse. A year ago, Jos M.A. van Engelshoven, M.D., Ph.D., former radiology head at the Maastricht University Medical Center, retrieved the equipment, most of which was still in working order, for a television program on the history of health care in the region. Dr. Kemerink then decided to analyze the setup in more detail.

The Maastricht researchers repeated some of the first imaging exams, using the equipment to image a hand specimen from a body that had been donated to science.

"We sometimes worked in a fully dark room that had black walls, with the only light coming from the flashing tube and from discharges in the spark gap," Dr. Kemerink said. "Together with the irregular buzz of the interrupter and the crackling sound of the discharges, this created a very special, kind of ghostly, ambiance."

The researchers compared the radiation dose, x-ray beam properties and electrical characteristics of the 1896 system with those from a modern x-ray system. Using the same exposure conditions used in 1896, the estimated skin dose needed to image the hand was nearly 1,500 times greater on the first-generation system than on the modern system -- 74 milligrays (mGy) and 0.05 mGy, respectively. Corresponding exposure times were 90 minutes for the old system and 21 milliseconds for the modern system.

Pinhole images showed that the x-rays originated from an extended area of the glass wall in the system's construction, causing image blurring. Still, the 114-year-old system produced what Dr. Kemerink described as surprisingly good images in which anatomical details were clearly visible.

The high radiation doses and long exposures times of early x-ray equipment caused significant health problems for the technology's pioneers. Adverse effects, such as eye complaints, skin burns and loss of hair, were reported within weeks of Roentgen's discovery.

"Many operators of the early x-ray systems experienced severe damage to hands over time, often necessitating amputations or other surgery," Dr. Kemerink said.

X-ray technology improved rapidly in the 20th century, with significantly lower radiation dose and exposure time and improved image quality, making it a convenient and safe imaging modality and an invaluable diagnostic tool.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Radiological Society of North America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gerrit J. Kemerink et al. Characteristics of a First-Generation X-Ray System. Radiology, (in press)

Cite This Page:

Radiological Society of North America. "Tests on century-old equipment show how far X-rays have come." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110316084405.htm>.
Radiological Society of North America. (2011, March 20). Tests on century-old equipment show how far X-rays have come. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110316084405.htm
Radiological Society of North America. "Tests on century-old equipment show how far X-rays have come." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110316084405.htm (accessed October 26, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

AFP (Oct. 25, 2014) — An American nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas has been declared free of the virus and will leave the hospital. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Toxin-Packed Stem Cells Used To Kill Cancer

Toxin-Packed Stem Cells Used To Kill Cancer

Newsy (Oct. 25, 2014) — A Harvard University Research Team created genetically engineered stem cells that are able to kill cancer cells, while leaving other cells unharmed. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins