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Tests on century-old equipment show how far X-rays have come
Date:3/15/2011

OAK BROOK, Ill. 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.

"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nobody had ever done systematic measurements on this equipment, since by the time one had the tools, these systems had been replaced by more sophisticated ones," said the study's lead author, Gerrit J. Kemerink, Ph.D., from Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands.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
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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert

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