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

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 system74 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.


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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert

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