Thesis: History of Radiology

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History Of Radiology

The field of radiology has drastically changed since the discovery of x-rays. Today radiology is not just limited as a diagnostics tool but interventional radiology is the forefront treatment for many serious diseases. Today's radiologists are not relegated to diagnostic roles but are actively involved in caregiving.

Radiology has evolved a long way since the discovery of x-rays by Wilhelm roentgen back in 1895. Today, the field of radiology is a comprehensive medical specialty which is not just limited to diagnostic imaging using x-rays, ultrasound, MRI, etc., but also constitutes interventional treatment methods such as angiography, angioplasty, radio frequency ablation, embolization etc. Particularly, in the treatment of vascular diseases and cancer, interventional radiology has become an effective and minimally invasive therapeutic approach. A brief history would help us get better insight into the timeline and the developments of new and important diagnostic and therapeutic tools in the field of radiology.

X-rays and Fluoroscopy

Wilhelm roentgen, the German physicist, discovered x-rays in 1895 creating what would be a revolution in medicine. Highly recognized for his achievement, the scientist was duly awarded the Nobel Prize in 1905 for his startling discovery, which was to be the precursor to modern medical diagnostic tools. It took not much time to understand the usefulness and the applications of x-rays to medical and other scientific domains. X-ray was one of the very first non-invasive tools that allowed a physician to look inside the human body without opening it. Soon after this discovery of x-rays followed the development of fluoroscopes and Thomas Edison is widely regarded as the designer of the first commercial fluoroscope using calcium tungstate as the florescent material. In 1896 it is reported that Edison and his workers had to screen more than 1800 chemical substances before arriving at calcium tungstate as the ideal material. [Otto Glassner, pg.236] in 1913, the Coolidge hot cathode tube became a standard x-ray vacuum tube with improvements over the original Crookes tube. Radiographic films appeared in 1918 replacing the previously used glass medium. However, the early radiologists were exposed to dangerous overdoses and many fatalities occurred due to occupational radiation. Only much later in the 1950's, with the development of x-ray image intensifiers and television camera did fluoroscopists find it safer as they could observe the images from a different room without the risk of exposure. [Christensen, pg. 166]

CT Scanners Ultrasound and MRI

Next major development in radiology was the invention of the CT Scanner by the British engineer Godfrey Hounsfield in the year 1972. The CT scanner employs x-rays to generate images from multiple angles and then uses the computer to produce a cross sectional image which greatly improves the diagnostics. Modern whole body CT scanners are faster, use low radiation and produce high resolution cross sectional images. The 1980's saw yet another revolution in medical diagnostics with the invention of the MRI. Magnetic Resonance Imaging as opposed to CT scans does not use x-rays but magnetism. [Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust]

Ultrasound scanning or sonography is the use of high frequency sound waves to create live images of the body. Ultrasound can show real time images of blood flow and tissue movements inside the human body. Though the technology in itself developed during the First World War for submarine detection purposes, the medical application was developed much later during the 1950's. Professor Ian Donald M.D from the university of Glasgow is regarded as the first person to have used ultrasound as a medical diagnostic tool in fields of gynecology and obstetrics. [Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust] Today we use 3-D ultrasound, which converts sound into 3 dimensional digital images. Doppler Ultrasound is used primarily to study the blood flow along the various tissues and organs of the human body. [RSNA]

The very first clinical application of MRI was in 1967 in Nottingham University Hospital but the technology had to wait until the 1980 for improvements in the computational power and the introduction of high field magnets drastically… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

History of Radiology.  (2008, September 15).  Retrieved September 15, 2019, from

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"History of Radiology."  15 September 2008.  Web.  15 September 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"History of Radiology."  September 15, 2008.  Accessed September 15, 2019.